Terror threat leads State to extend 19 embassy closings

The State Department announced late Sunday it would extend the closures of 19 foreign embassies across the Middle East and Northern Africa through next Saturday, as the terror threat across the region remained high through the final days of Ramadan. 

“Given that a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution, we've decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said the precautionary measures were not due to “a new threat stream,” but “was merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”

A handful of foreign posts that were closed on Sunday were not included in the State Department extension, and were scheduled to reopen as scheduled on Monday.

The State Department closed more than 20 diplomatic posts and issue a worldwide travel alert after government officials said they intercepted al Qaeda chatter that indicated a specific and imminent terror threat.

In addition to the surveillance intelligence, government officials cited the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, warnings from Yemeni officials, online video threats from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and jail breaks at outposts in the Middle East as reasons for concern.