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Friday, August 02, 2013

US embassies and consulates closed Sunday due to al-Qaeda threat

US embassies and consulates in Israel and in 13 Muslim countries will be closed on Sunday due to intelligence regarding an al-Qaeda threat to attack the embassies and the people waiting in line outside them.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf cited information indicating a threat to U.S. facilities overseas and said some diplomatic offices might stay closed for more than a day.
Other U.S. officials said the threat was in the Muslim world, where Sunday is a workday.
American diplomatic missions in Europe, Latin America and many other places are closed on Sunday.
Those officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Here's the official news from the US Embassy website in Tel Aviv.
Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens
The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4.  The Department 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, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. It is possible we may have additional days of closings as well, depending on our analysis.
The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety.  However, beyond this announcement we do not discuss specific threat information, security considerations or measures, or other steps we may be taking. 
For further information, we refer you to the Worldwide Caution put out by the Department dated February 19, 2013, repeated below:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_4787.html
As a matter of general practice, U.S. citizens should avoid areas where large gatherings may occur. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.
Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Israel enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).   STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
I understand keeping people away from possible locations of terror attacks, but shouldn't there be more of a response than that? Oh wait, that would mean admitting al-Qaeda still exists even though Osama Bin Laden was killed, wouldn't it?

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