Sunday's initial one-day closure of 22 U.S. embassies came after the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert warning of planned attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia by al-Qaeda or its affiliates. At least 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in predominantly Muslim countries will now remain closed through the week as the State Dept. continues to be on guard for possible terrorist attacks.
Jen Psaki, a State Dept. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail:
“Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts. [This is] “merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution.”
Last week, President Barack Obama instructed his national security team to "take all appropriate steps to protect the American people in light of a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula". The threat that prompted the closures is "very credible" and "specific as to how enormous it was going to be". Certain dates were also given.
The United Kingdom also closed down its embassy in Yemen on Sunday due to heightened security concerns, and will also remain shut until the end of the Muslim Eid holiday this week. The U.K. has also urged all Britons to leave Yemen immediately.