◉ By Domani Spero
Updated August 2, 8:08 am: Additional U.S. embassies/consulates closing on August 4: Khartoum (Sudan), Basrah and Erbil (Iraq) and Amman (Jordan).
Updated August 3, 10 pm: Other posts included in the temporary closures for August 4: Dhahran and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Djibouti (Djibouti) and Dubai (UAE), bringing the total closures to 23 at this time. The US Tel Aviv Embassy post closure includes the American Center in Jerusalem and the Haifa Consular Agency.
As of this writing, 15 embassies in Africa, Near East Asia and South Central Asia have been ordered to close on Sunday, August 4 due to a security threat attributed to Al Qaeda. CBS News reports that U.S. intelligence has picked up signs of an al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. The intelligence does not mention a specific location, which is why all embassies that would normally be open on Sunday have been ordered to close.
According to CBS News, officials say that this appears to be a real plot in the making and not just the normal chatter among terrorists talking about attacks they’d like to carry out. But these same officials add they are missing key pieces of information.
An unnamed senior State Department official also told CBS News: “For those who asked about which embassies and consulates we have instructed to suspend operations on August 4th, the answer is that we have instructed all U.S. Embassies and Consulates that would have normally been open on Sunday to suspend operations, specifically on August 4th. It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”
Below is the message posted by the affected embassies; links to the emergency message are listed at the bottom of this post:
The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4. The Department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. It is possible we may have additional days of closings as well, depending on our analysis. The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety. However, beyond this announcement we do not discuss specific threat information, security considerations or measures, or other steps we may be taking.
We are pleased to see that they are being prudent. While we have not been glued to the news this past few days, we heard that hundreds escape from the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. There seems to be a whole lot of prison breaks lately in other parts of the region. While these incidents may not be connected, we find it disturbing and gravely unsettling. We are also just a few days away from the 15th anniversary of the twin U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa. We might also remember that in the last several years, August has been a month of death and mayhem for our diplomatic posts overseas.
AUGUST 7, 1998 – EAST AFRICA BOMBINGS: Near-simultaneous truck bombs exploded and severely damaged the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 291 people (including 12 Americans) and injuring nearly 5,000 (including six Americans) in Nairobi, and killing 10 people and injuring 77 (including one American) in Dar es Salaam.
AUGUST 7, 2004 – AL-JAWF, YEMEN: Angry local villagers opened fire on vehicles of the U.S. Embassy Force Protection Detachment.
AUGUST 21, 2005 – PAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN: Assailants detonated an explosive device as a U.S. Embassy vehicle passed, wounding two Embassy employees and damaging the vehicle.
AUGUST 29, 2006 – KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals detonated a remote-controlled bomb against a U.S. Embassy vehicle, damaging the vehicle but causing no injuries.
AUGUST 27, 2006 – AL-HILLAH, IRAQ: Four or five mortar rounds were fired at the Regional Embassy Office Hillah, injuring two U.S. soldiers, one U.S. contract employee, and four local employees.
AUGUST 28, 2008 – BASRAH, IRAQ: One of two rockets fired at Basrah Air Station penetrated the overhead cover of the Regional Embassy Office located at the station, and passed through two trailers before embedding in the ground. No injuries were reported.
AUGUST 26, 2008 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: Gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying the U.S. Consulate General’s principal officer to work. She and her driver escaped injury when the driver drove the vehicle in reverse, to the safety of the officer’s residence nearby.
AUGUST 3, 2011 – BAGHDAD, IRAQ: An explosive device detonated against a U.S. Embassy protective security team, injuring five persons and damaging one vehicle.
AUGUST 8, 2012 – ASADABAD CITY, AFGHANISTAN: Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives near U.S. provincial reconstruction team members walking near Forward Operating Base Fiaz, killing three U.S. service members and one USAID employee, and wounding nine U.S. soldiers, one U.S. diplomat, four local employees, and one Afghan National Army member.
Below is a list of August 4, 2013 U.S. Embassy Closures:
- Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens: Tel Aviv (Israel), Embassy and Consulate Closure on Sunday, August 4, Update
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Nouakchott (Mauritania), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Algiers (Algeria), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Embassy and Consulate Closures on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Sana’a (Yemen), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Tripoli (Libya), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Embassy and Consulate Closures on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Tel Aviv (Israel)
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Dhaka (Bangladesh), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Kuwait City (Kuwait), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Muscat (Oman), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Manama (Bahrain), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Doha (Qatar), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Cairo (Egypt), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Kabul (Afghanistan), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Baghdad (Iraq), Embassy Closure on Sunday, August 4
- Al Qaeda plot tied to embassy closings on Sunday (cbsnews.com)
- U.S. shuts embassies in Israel, elsewhere Aug. 4 (jta.org)
- Significant Attacks Against U.S. Diplomatic Facilities/Personnel From 1998-2012 (diplopundit.net)
- US to close some embassies Sunday for security reasons – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Terror threat prompts U.S. embassy closures overseas (cnn.com)