US embassies to shut down Sunday due to terror threat

14 diplomatic posts across Mideast and Asia, including Israel, to close for the day because of al-Qaeda-related warnings

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv (photo credit: CC BY-Krokodyl/Wikimedia Commons/File)
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv (photo credit: CC BY-Krokodyl/Wikimedia Commons/File)

US embassies and consulates across the Middle East and Asia — including in Israel — will be closed on Sunday due to an al-Qaeda-related terror threat, officials said Thursday.

The US has been “apprised of information that out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, that indicates we should institute these precautionary steps,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

Harf cited information indicating a threat to US facilities overseas and said some diplomatic facilities may stay closed for more than a day. Other US officials said the threat was in the Muslim world, where Sunday is a workday.

Diplomatic posts in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan are among those that will be shut for at least one day, according to an NBC News report.

Harf added that the closures may be extended, “depending on our analysis.”

Messages alerting US citizens of the closures went out in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.

US officials said the threat appeared to have originated somewhere in the Middle East, and that it was aimed at overseas diplomatic posts, not at facilities inside the US.

The State Department issued a major warning last year informing American diplomatic facilities across the Muslim world about potential violence connected to the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Dozens of American installations were besieged by protest over an anti-Islam video made by an American resident.

In Benghazi, Libya, the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed when militants assaulted a diplomatic post. The administration no longer says that attack was related to the demonstrations.

AP contributed to this report.

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