US facing tough security decision on 9/11 anniversary

The Obama administration is facing a tough decision on whether to close embassies Wednesday on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Anti-American sentiment — inflamed in part by a U.S.-made anti-Islam video — boiled over last year on Sept. 11 and triggered protests across the Muslim world, culminating with the terror attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Tensions in the region are even higher now: Egyptians across the political spectrum blame the United States for the country's instability, and many Muslims are wary of potential U.S. involvement in Syria.

The State Department had not announced any closings as of Tuesday morning, but the embassy in Libya restricted the movement of its personnel to “essential travel only.” Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed after he traveled from the relatively safe U.S. embassy in Tripoli to help set up a permanent mission in volatile Benghazi, 400 miles away.

“As the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, the U.S. Embassy in Libya reminds U.S. citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security,” the embassy said in a statement on its website. “During the days surrounding September 11, the embassy plans to restrict movement of embassy personnel to essential travel only. Only emergency American Citizen Services will be offered from September 5-15.”

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a similar message on the “need for caution and awareness of personal security.”

So did the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia, site of one of the most violent protests last year that left four people dead after an angry mob set fire to the American Cooperative School of Tunis. The State Department pulled out all its nonessential personnel during last year's protests and urged Americans to leave the city.

“In light of current tensions in the region, as well as the anniversaries of the 9/11 attacks and the September 14, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, U.S. citizens should be alert and aware of their surroundings, and maintain security awareness at all times,” the embassy said in a statement.

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