Aug 05, 2013

    Middle East missions shut as US weighs threat

    SECURITY was tight at United States missions around the Arab world yesterday as Washington held urgent talks on an Al-Qaeda threat that prompted it to close 22 embassies and consulates.

    Measures were particularly strict in the Yemeni capital where Britain, France and Germany all closed their embassies too, following the US warning that lawmakers in Washington said involved Al-Qaeda's Yemen and Saudi Arabia branch.

    But the US alert spread across most Arab capitals and extended beyond the Arab world to Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and saw embassies closed yesterday, the first day of the working week in many Islamic nations.

    In Sanaa, special forces with armoured personnel carriers were stationed outside the US Embassy and the missions of Britain, France and Germany. Police and army checkpoints were set up on the Yemeni capital's main thoroughfares.

    US National Security Adviser Susan Rice chaired White House talks to review Washington's response to the threat it revealed last Friday of major attack by Al-Qaeda this month.

    Also attending were Secretary of State John Kerry, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, as well as the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Security Agency, the White House said.

    The White House meeting was held as Interpol issued a global security alert after hundreds of militants were set free in jailbreaks linked to Al-Qaeda.