US keeps Muslim world posts shut
US diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least until the end of this week, amid online "chatter" about terror threats.
The State Department said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is a sign of an "abundance of caution" and is "not an indication of a new threat."
Diplomatic facilities will remain closed in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries, until Saturday, August 10. The US decided to reopen some posts on Monday, including those in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Baghdad.
The intelligence intercepts also prompted Britain, Germany and France to close their embassies in Yemen on Sunday and Monday. Some British embassy staff in Yemen had been withdrawn "due to security concerns." France said it would extend the closure of its embassy in the Yemeni capital.
Interpol has also issued a global security alert in connection with suspected al-Qaida involvement in several recent prison escapes including those in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.
Intercepted intelligence foreshadowing an attack on US or Western interests is evidence of one of the gravest threats to the United States since the September 11 attacks, according to politicians who made the rounds on the weekend talk shows.
"This is the most serious threat that I've seen in the last several years," senator Saxby Chambliss told NBC . "Chatter means conversation among terrorists about the planning that's going on - very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11."
Mr Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was that chatter that prompted the Obama administration to order the Sunday closure of 22 embassies and consulates and issue a global travel warning to Americans.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told ABC that the threat intercepted from "high-level people in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula" was about a "major attack."
Yemen is home to al-Qaida's most dangerous affiliate, blamed for several notable terrorist plots on the United States. They include the foiled Christmas Day 2009 effort to bomb an airliner over Detroit and the explosives-laden parcels intercepted the following year aboard cargo flights.