With new evidence that Al Qaeda is looking to strike, the United States government has closed more than 20 embassies and consulates across the Middle East and Northern Africa. Global travel warnings have also been issued by the State Department, urging U.S. citizens to be alert to “the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”
An intercepted message among senior Al Qaeda operatives led to the closures and warnings. According to a member of the House Intelligence Committee, the information was gathered from “chatter” accumulated from phone lines, computer outlets, websites and other communication outlets. The information indicates that members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning for an unspecified attack. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview with CBS that it was “one of the most specific and credible threats I've seen perhaps since 9/11.”
The threats have also led federal authorities to tighten security here. The Department of Homeland Security is increasing security measures at all transportation hubs, including airports, train and bus stations. Travelers coming into the country will also be heavily screened by officials.
A joint intelligence bulletin was issued by the DHS and the FBI to state and local law enforcement agencies outlining the recent intelligence and urging authorities to remain alert and vigilant to any suspicious activity. That bulletin remains classified, highlighting just how serious the threat is.
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