- (Photo: Reuters/Luis Magana)
The U.S. State Department plans to close embassies and consulates located in predominately Muslim countries on Sunday because of unspecified security concerns, officials announced Thursday.
U.S. embassies, including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo, that are normally open on Sundays will be closed. The action is being taken out of an "abundance of caution," State Department officials said.
The planned embassy closings were tied to U.S. intelligence about an al Qaeda plot against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries, CBS News reported. Specific locations were not mentioned in the intelligence, said CBS.
"The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4th," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at her daily briefing. "Security considerations have led us to take this precautionary step."
Harf refused to detail the "security considerations" or name the embassies and consulates that would be closed. However, she did reveal that there is a possibility that because of the information indicating a threat to U.S. facilities overseas some may stay closed for more than one day.
Associated Press reported that other U.S. officials said the threat was in the Muslim world, where Sunday is a workday. American diplomatic missions in Europe, Latin America and many other places are closed on Sunday. Those officials were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, according to AP.
In September 2012, Muslim extremists stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The administration no longer says that attack was related to the demonstrations which were linked to outrage over a video interpreted as portraying Muslims in a bad light.