United States citizens around the world received warnings from the State Department to be on the alert for possible terrorist attacks in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Diplomatic missions in 21 locations from North Africa to Afghanistan will also be closed on Sunday, which happens to also be President Barack Obama birthday, because of a believable security threat.
“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” warned the State Department.
In Muslim countries and Israel Sunday is a normal workday, so closing the missions on this day is highly unusual.
The security alert also warned that “terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.”
The department added that “U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling” but not state any specific measures that should be taken.