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

Should We Fear The MERS Virus?

Should We Fear The MERS VirusThe world has been shaken recently by the announcement of a new virus called the MERS-CoV, which is found in Saudi Arabia. According to the director of the World Health Organization, this virus is a “threat to the entire world.” So, should we fear the MERS-Cov?

‘We know so little’

The WHO has named the novel coronavirus as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), since majority of those who have caught the illness have been to Saudi Arabia. What seems to be the most alarming thing about the virus is that we know so little about it. At present, nobody can tell how fast it develops and how exactly it can be controlled. And that’s where the MERS virus gets its advantage.

‘The same pattern’

Remember when the world was struck with panic when the Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus was announced? Right now, we can almost see the same pattern coming out here. A new virus develops. Somebody dies. The WHO announces what it is. Everybody scrambles to research about it. More people die. More research about the treatment. A positive result comes out from the research. Life goes on.

That sounds simple enough. But right now, while we are still at the beginning of that pattern, it is quite understandable why everybody is afraid of the MERS. And with good reason. If you don’t have enough knowledge about that virus, you don’t know how to defeat it. And until we find a very good way to manage and defeat that deadly virus, it will remain deadly, and we will remain cautious and afraid.

Have you been hit by a coronavirus before? Do you think scientists will find a way to manage the MERS-CoV soon?

Image: The Lancet