U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda Threat

U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda ThreatA global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department warned al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, a threat that prompted Sunday’s closure of 21 embassies and consulates.

‘Muslim holy month’

One of the sources said that such preparations appeared to have increased in recent days with the approaching end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In particular, Sunday is Laylet al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, which is one of the holiest moments on the Muslim calendar.

Based on intelligence, U.S. officials said, there was particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday.  Still, it’s unclear whether the apparent plot targets that Arabian nation or one elsewhere — which is why the travel alert applies so broadly, and why embassies from Bangladesh to Libya are being closed. The expected time of an attack also isn’t known, with the U.S. travel alert noting the threat extends through the end of August.


‘Shut down’

The 17 affected U.S. embassies are in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen. The U.S. embassy in Israel will be closed as normal Sunday. Consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also being shut down for the day. Embassies and consulates in the region typically close their doors or operate with minimal staff on Fridays and Saturdays.

Where do you think is the main target of this Al Qaeda threat? And for how long will this alert last?

Source: Chris Lawrence. Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen | CNN

Image: Al Arabiya

Egypt Gas Pipeline to Jordan and Israel Blown Up

Saboteurs blew up Egypt’s gas pipeline to Jordan and Israel on Monday, witnesses and security sources said, a few hours before the country holds its first free election since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. State news agency MENA said the explosion was in al-Sabeel area. Security sources said the explosions were detonated from a distance and that tracks from two vehicles were found in the area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt’s 20-year gas deal with Israel, signed in the Mubarak era, is unpopular with the Egyptian public, with critics arguing that the Jewish state does not pay enough for the gas.

An executive of the East Mediterranean Gas Co (EMG), which exports Egyptian gas to Israel, said in July that international shareholders in the firm were pursuing legal claims against Egypt for $8 billion in damages from contract violations in gas supplies, following disruptions caused by pipeline attacks.

Egypt doubled the price of gas exported to Jordan last month. Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab said the new price was just above $5 per million BTU, up from $2.15 to $2.30.

The government said this month it would tighten security measures along the pipeline by installing alarm devices and recruiting security patrols from Bedouin tribesmen.

 

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