US ex­tends clo­sures of mis­sions over­seas

Move comes af­ter in­ter­cepts show ‘al- Qaida pre­par­ing for ma­jor at­tack’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By VERONIKA OLEKSYN in Wash­ing­ton Agence France-presse

US mis­sions across the Mid­dle East and Africa will be closed un­til Satur­day af­ter US in­tel­li­gence un­cov­ered what law­mak­ers said was the most se­ri­ous threats of an al-Qaida at­tack in years.

The US State Depart­ment, say­ing it was act­ing “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion”, said 19 diplo­matic out­posts would be closed un­til the week­end.

Adding fur­ther ten­sion to the sit­u­a­tion, In­ter­pol is­sued a se­cu­rity alert over the week­end af­ter hun­dreds of mil­i­tants were freed in jail­breaks.

The US list in­cludes 15 em­bassies or con­sulates that were al­ready closed on Sun­day due to the se­cu­rity fears, as well as four ad­di­tional posts. At least 25 US mis­sions had ini­tially been or­dered closed.

On Sun­day, US law­mak­ers said the move was prompted by elec­tronic in­ter­cepts of high­rank­ing al-Qaida op­er­a­tives sig­nal­ing a ma­jor at­tack.

The in­ter­cepts were “prob­a­bly one of the most spe­cific and cred­i­ble threats I’ve seen, per­haps, since Sept 11, 2001,” said Michael McCaul, chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee.

An at­tack ap­peared to be im­mi­nent, pos­si­bly timed to co­in­cide with the last night of Ra­madan, McCaul told CBS.

‘Lot of chat­ter’

Saxby Cham­b­liss, vice- chair­man of the US Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said there has been “an aw­ful lot of chat­ter” among ter­ror­ists about plan­ning an at­tack, all “very rem­i­nis­cent of what we saw pre-Sept 11”.

Cham­b­liss, ap­pear­ing on NBC’s Meet the Press, said a US National Se­cu­rity Agency pro­gram that elec­tron­i­cally in­ter­cepts mo­bile phone and e-mail com­mu­ni­ca­tion helped gather in­tel­li­gence about this threat.

The NSA pro­grams have come un­der in­tense scru­tiny since for­mer in­tel­li­gence an­a­lyst Ed­ward Snow­den leaked in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia about the scope of the sur­veil­lance.

“If we did not have th­ese pro­grams then we sim­ply wouldn’t be able to lis­ten in on the bad guys,” said Cham­b­liss, who de­scribed the in­for­ma­tion as “the most se­ri­ous threat that I’ve seen in the last sev­eral years”.

Dutch Rup­pers­berger, the top Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, told ABC’s This Week that US of­fi­cials

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.