The U.S. will temporarily shut down all of its embassies in the Middle East (and some in Asia) on Sunday in response to a possible threat connected to al-Qaeda, NBC News is reporting. They're not specifying which embassies will be closed, or how many.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told NBC that the decision came after the U.S. was "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," but didn't provide much more on the closures beyond that. The decision to close might be extended beyond Sunday, depending on what the department knows about the continuing threat. Here's what an unnamed official at the department said to the network about the closures:
All embassies that are usually open in Sundays — primarily those in Muslim countries and Israel — would be closed Aug. 4 "out of an abundance of caution." Sunday is a normal workday in those countries. The officials said the threat appeared to have originated somewhere in the Middle East and to be related to al-Qaeda. It was aimed at overseas diplomatic posts, not at facilities inside the U.S., they said.
According to CNN, the main embassies in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Kuwait will close, while the embassy in Sanaa, Yemen is under close watch. Their report says the closures will start over the next few days, stretching into Sunday.
Update, Friday: The State Department released the full list of the embassies closed because of the possible threat. They are:
- U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- U.S. Embassy Algiers, Algeria
- U.S. Embassy Amman, Jordan
- U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
- U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt
- U.S. Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
- U.S. Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti
- U.S. Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh
- U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar
- U.S. Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- U.S. Consulate Erbil, Iraq
- U.S. Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
- U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan
- U.S. Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait
- U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain
- U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman
- U.S. Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania
- U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen
- U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Libya
Update Friday, 5 p.m.: The U.K. is also closing at least one embassy on Sunday, as a "precautionary measure." The Foreign Office didn't mention a link to a specific threat.
#BREAKING Britain to close Yemen embassy on August 4 and 5— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) August 2, 2013