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

Norwegian Woman Jailed In Dubai After Reporting Rape

Norwegian Woman Jailed In Dubai After Reporting RapeNorwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv has spoken out after being handed a 16-month prison sentence in Dubai — after she went to police to report she had been raped by a colleague. The 24-year-old, who had been working at an interior design firm in Qatar since September 2011, told CNN on Saturday how a work trip to Dubai in March with three colleagues turned into a nightmare.

‘Sexual assault’

She said she had been out at a bar with her colleagues and friends, and asked a male colleague to walk her to her room when they returned at 3 a.m. to the hotel. She’d asked him to escort her because the hotel was large and confusing, and she didn’t want to be wandering on her own, knowing she’d been drinking, she said. When they reached a room, she realized it wasn’t hers — but the man then pulled her inside despite her vocal objections, according to Dalelv.

That was pretty much the last thing she said she remembers before the alleged sexual assault.  After someone knocked — the hotel wake-up call — she managed to get dressed and make it downstairs to the hotel reception and call the police.


‘No explanations’

Some 10 or 12 male police officers arrived, but no female police officers were present, she said. Statements were taken from both Dalelv and the alleged rapist. She was then taken to Bur Dubai police station, she said. Dalelv says she was taken for an intimate medical exam and tested for alcohol consumption. Her belongings were taken and she was kept in jail for four days, she said, with no explanation as to why.

Subsequently, she said her manager advised her to tell the police it was voluntary sexual intercourse and likely the whole issue would just go away. She followed the advice and in one of the many hearings at the public prosecutor’s office, she made a statement saying it was voluntary. Dalelv was then charged with making a false statement.

Dalelv was convicted Tuesday on all three charges and was sentenced to one year in jail for having unlawful sex, three months in jail for making a false statement and one month for illegal consumption of alcohol.

What is your reaction regarding this story? Do you think rape victims deserve to go to jail?

Source: Nicola Goulding and Phil O’Sullivan | CNN

Image: Huffington Post