The United States is keeping 19 embassies and consulates in the Mideast and Africa closed for the rest of the week because of serious security threats. A major newspaper says the closures were prompted by intercepts of communications involving the head of the al-Qaida terror organization.
Some embassies were reopened Monday after a day-long shutdown. They include Algiers, Baghdad, Dhaka, and Kabul. Nineteen others will stay closed including Amman, Cairo and Sanaa, and Tripoli.
U.S. officials have not specified the nature of the threat.
But the New York Times reports U.S. intelligence intercepted electronic conversations in which the al-Qaida chief in Pakistan, Ayman al-Zawahri, ordered the head of its branch in Yemen to carry out an attack as early as this past Sunday.
The Times reports the two terrorists did not specify exactly where and when the attacks would take place.
The State Department says it is keeping the 19 embassies closed "out of an abundance of caution." Spokeswoman Marie Harf says officials will keep analyzing intelligence as it evaluates security needs.
Several key U.S. lawmakers said the threats of a possible imminent attack are the most specific they have seen since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States. They call the decision to close embassies and issue a global travel alert extraordinary. The international police organization Interpol issued its own security alert
The U.S. diplomatic posts to stay closed all week are Amman, Cairo, Sanaa, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Antanarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis.