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August 02, 2013 1:43 PM Alert!

By Ed Kilgore

I really have no idea what this is really about, but it sounds pretty serious:

A State Department travel alert Friday said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, as the United States is closing 21 embassies and consulates Sunday as a precaution.
“Current information suggests that al Qaeda 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,” said the alert, which covers the entire month.
It warned that “terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests.”
A separate State Department list showed the 21 embassies and consulates that will close on Sunday, normally the start of the work week in the countries affected. They included embassies in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen and 11 other countries, as well as consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates….
Rep. Ed Royce told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday that Al Qaeda was linked to a terror threat that prompted the embassy closings.
“It’s my understanding that it is al Qaeda-linked, all right, and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia,” said Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
On Thursday, a U.S. official not authorized to speak publicly about the matter called the threat “credible and serious.”
It was “directed at American targets overseas,” but may not be confined to main diplomatic facilities, the official said.
Separately, another U.S. official told CNN that the Obama administration is monitoring threats against the embassy in Sanaa, Yemen.

It appears the intelligence “chatter” may be keyed to the end of Ramadan, or perhaps the approaching anniversary of the Benghazi attacks. Or it may just be the annual talk associated with the 9/11 anniversary.

Let’s hope it’s a false alarm.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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