News correspondent calls worldwide terror alert a “terrible reminder for Americans that we are still major targets”
The State Department has issued a worldwide alert warning Americans overseas that a terrorist “plot is underway.”
The U.S. government plans to shut down more than 20 embassies and consulates, the most to be closed since 9/11.
BBC News reports, “The U.S. intercepted al-Qaeda messages” and has “issued a separate global security alert, citing jail breaks linked to al-Qaeda in nine countries.”
Martha Raddatz, an ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent, calls the alert a “terrible reminder for Americans that we are still major targets.”
Correspondents pointed out that the terror alert is “unusually broad and covers travel for Americans across the globe.”
Americans have been warned to be cautious when visiting tourist sites and while using public transportation.
In a statement issued by the State Department officials warned, “Terrorists may use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests.”
The warning is set to remain in effect until the end of August.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told ABC News, “It is an al-Qaeda affiliated threat. It is of the al-Qaeda branch.”
Gen. Dempsey says the specific target is unknown, however the “intent is clear to attack Western, not just U.S. interests.”
ABC News says the threat is believed to be coming from Yemen and told correspondents it’s the same region where “Anwar Al-Awlaki, a radical American cleric, directed terrorists attacks.”
This is the same Anwar al-Awlaki that dined at the Pentagon a few months after the 9/11 attack and was later killed by a drone strike in 2011.
In 2012, Infowars reported, “American-born cleric Awlaki’s role as a key figure in almost every recent terror plot targeting the United States and Canada, coupled with his visit to the Pentagon, only confirms our long stated position that Awlaki is a chief terrorist patsy-handler for the CIA – he is the federal government’s premier false flag agent,” Paul Joseph Watson wrote.
Officials believe the latest plot could involve multiple targets both in and outside of Yemen.
CBS News reports, “Britain will close its embassy in Yemen and has urged all its citizens to leave the country.”
ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent warns Americans to avoid local events like “demonstrations,” and also encourages travelers to enroll in the “Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP).”
According to the government’s website, STEP is a “free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.”
STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The program’s app sends you emails and texts about possible new security advisories.
CBS News Senior National Security Analyst Juan Zarate said, “These guys are for real and they want to hit the United States. They are committed global jihadis.”
In closing Zarate warns, “We know about it, and we may know about you.”
OBAMA’S ATTEMPT TO COVER-UP BENGHAZI
Published on Aug 4, 2013
Alex Jones covers the real story behind Benghazi, how the alternative media broke the story months ago, and how the corporate media is attempting to claim ownership and spin the story as the truth once again undercuts government lies and misinformation. Alex will revisit last year’s interview with Lt. Col Anthony Schaffer whose sources said Obama ordered a hit on Ambassador Chris Stevens. On today’s worldwide broadcast, Alex will also breakdown the reasoning and timing behind the Worldwide Terror Alert issued by the government as it reels in reaction to the latest Benghazi revelations and attempts to commandeer political events and the response of the public as it learns the real story in the alternative media.
BENGHAZI BOMBSHELL: INSIDERS CONFIRM CIA SENT MISSILES TO FSA REBELS
Published on Aug 4, 2013
The corporate media is now forced to admit that the Benghazi attack was staged by a State Department hired jihadist security outfit in connection with an arms transfer to al-Qaeda mercenaries in Syria.
It has yet to point out, however, that the Obama administration attempted to cover-up the real reason for the murder of ambassador Stevens — U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the State Department initially pointing to a lame anti-Muslim video — and has consistently downplayed the incident and characterized it as a non-event not requiring congressional investigation and the impeachment of President Obama.
Covert War Between the Pentagon and CIA
A number of guests appearing on the Alex Jones Show following the attack have built an indisputable case that the CIA was shipping arms from U.S.-controlled facilities located at the U.S. mission in Benghazi to its mercenaries in Syria and the murder of ambassador Stevens was carried out by an al-Qaeda affiliated group as part of a turf war between the CIA and elements in the Pentagon.
In May, former government insider Steve Pieczenik explained how a Pentagon effort to derail a CIA operation may have occurred.
CONFIRMED: BENGHAZI WAS COVER-UP OF ARMS TRANSFER TO AL-QAEDA
Government whistleblowers exposed real story early on to alternative media.
Kurt Nimmo and Alex Jones
August 4, 2013
The corporate media is now forced to admit that the Benghazi attack was staged by a State Department hired jihadist security outfit in connection with an arms transfer to al-Qaeda mercenaries in Syria.
It has yet to point out, however, that the Obama administration attempted to cover-up the real reason for the murder of ambassador Stevens – U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and the State Department initially pointing to a lame anti-Muslim video – and has consistently downplayed the incident and characterized it as a non-event not requiring congressional investigation and the impeachment of President Obama.
Covert War Between the Pentagon and CIA
A number of guests appearing on the Alex Jones Show following the attack have built an indisputable case that the CIA was shipping arms from U.S.-controlled facilities located at the U.S. mission in Benghazi to its mercenaries in Syria and the murder of ambassador Stevens was carried out by an al-Qaeda affiliated group as part of a turf war between the CIA and elements in the Pentagon.
In May, former government insider Steve Pieczenik explained how a Pentagon effort to derail a CIA operation may have occurred.
“The real issue is very simple, you have to think of two elements of the government fighting each other that are covert,” Pieczenik told the Alex Jones Show. “The government is never unified, it never has been unified. For over thirty or forty years there has been a conflict between the military and the CIA and the FBI… The CIA has been run for the last fifty years by civilians who are out of control.”
Appearing on the Alex Jones Show in November, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen also stated that the murder of Stevens was connected to a turf war between the Pentagon and the CIA.
All the evidence points to the Pentagon doing nothing to stop the attack on the compound. Martin Dempsey, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted during a Senate hearing in June that highly trained Special Forces were stationed a few hours away from Benghazi on the night of the attacks but were not deployed.
This contradicts comments made by Gregory Hicks, the former top U.S. diplomat in Benghazi, who told Congress in May that officials from Special Operations Command-Africa ordered the units to stand down.
In May, Infowars.com posted an article reporting the fact the Benghazi attack and the murder of ambassador Stevens had nothing to do with an absurd anti-Islam video, as the establishment media and the Obama administration insisted, but was directly connected to the shipment of arms from Libya to the mercenaries in Syria and, as Pieczenik explained, a covert struggle between the Pentagon and civilians in the CIA.
Ambassador Stevens and the CIA’s Jihadist Recruitment
Last November, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer pointed out during an appearance on the Alex Jones Show that Turkey partnered with the CIA to take down Bashar al-Assad in Syria and, hours before the compound was attacked and Stevens and others lost their lives, the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin met with the U.S. ambassador.
According to Egyptian security officials, Stevens was instrumental in recruiting jihadists for the CIA’s war in Syria and “served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces,” writes Aaron Klein.
As Infowars.com and others have reported, the Syrian mercenaries belong to the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. This is part of a well-established pattern on the part of the CIA going back to at least its recruitment of the Mujahideen and so-called Afghan Arabs in Afghanistan and later in the Balkans.
It was learned after the attack that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade was paid by the State Department to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The group had “clear al-Qaida sympathies, and had prominently displayed the al-Qaida flag on a Facebook page for months before the deadly attack,” Max Rosenthal reported for Newsmax in May. The February 17th Martyrs Brigade, it was latter learned during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, are in league with Ansar al-Sharia, said to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
CIA Sending Surface-to-air Missiles to Libya
Part of the operation involving Stevens included sending surface-to-air missiles to al-Qaeda in Syria. “Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels,” CNN reported late last week, months after Infowars.com and others reported the illicit arms shipment.
Predictably, the establishment media, led by CNN and Fox News, is taking credit for exposing details on the arms smuggling operation. On Saturday, Fox News “political insider” Geraldo Rivera speculated “that the CIA is covering up a gun-running operation in Benghazi.” Now that the real details on Benghazi are public, the establishment media is playing catch-up and is attempting to control the story.
The Obama administration announced in late September that “it planned to expand a program to secure and destroy Libya’s huge stockpile of dangerous surface-to-air missiles” and that “the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in ‘explosive ordinance disposal,’ all working with the rebel Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles,” ABC News reported.
In fact, the State Department, under the guidance of ambassador Stevens, was moving to round up the missiles and send them to al-Qaeda in Syria. Prior to this, in December, 2011, the U.S. claimed to have secured 5,000 surface-to-air missiles and destroyed them outside of the village of Sidi Bin Nur in Libya. Doubtless, instead, they became part of the CIA’s cache destined for Syria.
FAKE WASHINGTON TERROR THREAT
by Stephen Lendman
August 4, 2013
They’re in various forms. They repeat with disturbing regularity. America’s war on terror targets Islam. At issue is duplicitous scaremongering. It advances Washington’s imperium.
Wars of aggression follow. False arrests target innocent victims. Terror threats repeat. They’re strategically timed. They change the subject. They divert attention.
They fool most Americans. They do so most of the time. Here we go again. Media scoundrels march in lockstep. They regurgitate Big Lies.
On August 2, The New York Times headlined “Qaeda Messages Prompt US Terror Warning,” saying:
“The United States intercepted electronic communications this week among senior operatives of Al Qaeda, in which the terrorists discussed attacks against American interests in the Middle East and North Africa, American officials said Friday.”
“The intercepts and a subsequent analysis of them by American intelligence agencies prompted the United States to issue an unusual global travel alert to American citizens on Friday, warning of the potential for terrorist attacks by operatives of Al Qaeda and their associates beginning Sunday through the end of August.”
Al Qaeda’s a longstanding US asset. It’s used strategically as enemy and ally. Terror threats are fabricated. Bin Ladin was used as “Enemy Number One” years after he died.
Obama didn’t kill him. He was seriously ill with kidney disease. He had other illnesses. In December 2011, he died naturally. The Pakistan Observer reported it. So did BBC and Fox News.
In July 2002, The New York Times said he’s been dead for “almost six months.” He was “buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan.”
On August 1, 2013, The State Department headlined “Temporary Post Closures and Worldwide Travel Alert.” It’s like previous ones. They’re fake.
“The following posts normally open on Sunday will be closed” on August 3 and 4, 2013. It’s because of “increased security concerns.”
“For further information, please click on the links below. A Worldwide Travel Alert has also been issued.”
US Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
US Embassy Algiers, Algeria
US Embassy Amman, Jordan
US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
US Consulate Basrah, Iraq
US Embassy Cairo, Egypt
US Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
US Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti
US Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh
US Embassy Doha, Qatar
US Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates
US Consulate Erbil, Iraq
US Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
US Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan
US Embassy Khartoum, Sudan
US Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait
US Embassy Manama, Bahrain
US Embassy Muscat, Oman
US Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania
US Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
US Embassy Sana’a, Yemen
US Embassy Tripoli, Libya
According to an unnamed senior American official,”more than the usual chatter” was intercepted. Specifics were omitted. There are none. They don’t exist.
They come at Ramadan’s close. They followed Russia granting Snowden asylum. They came three days after fake Israeli/Palestinian peace talks began.
They’re during worsening economic crisis conditions. They affect growing millions. They’re when Washington threatens escalated war on Syria.
They’re at the same time administration officials try justifying institutionalized global spying. Meta-data mining is standard practice. NSA monitors everyone it targets all the time everywhere.
Russell Tice is a former Office of Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency/NSA analyst. His career spanned 20 years.
In December 2005, he accused NSA and DIA of unconstitutionally wiretapping US citizens. He got national attention, saying:
“Everyone at NSA knew what they were doing was illegal, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over that it’s against NSA policy, that you do not do that. The choice is to speak out and get fired.”
On August 1, he was interviewed on PBS’ News Hour. He said NSA collects “everything.” It accumulates content “word for word, everything of every domestic communication in this country.”
Every phone call, email, and other personal communication is gathered and stored. Nothing escapes its scrutiny. It lies claiming otherwise. Meta-data collection is official policy. It’s longstanding. It’s done with technological ease.
Earlier he said NSA “targets, sucks-in, stores and analyzes illegally obtained content from the masses in the United States.”
Elected officials are monitored. So are federal judges. Candidate Obama’s phone was tapped. His private emails were read.
Public awareness grows. Fearmongering diverts attention. False flags shift attention from what matters. Administration officials take full advantage.
On August 2, Russia Today headlined “US issues global travel alert over al-Qaeda attack threat,” saying:
It “warn(ed) US citizens about the ‘continued potential for terrorist attacks’ in the Middle East and North Africa.”
It comes weeks ahead of the 12th 9/11 anniversary. It’s also the Benghazi, Libya first anniversary.
The travel alert remains throughout August. The State Department “alert(ed) US citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa and possibly occurring and emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”
“Current information suggest that al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorists attacks booth in the region and beyond and they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”
Americans were warned about potential dangers on subways, air travel, railways, ships, other forms of public transportation, and prime tourist sites.
Media scoundrels regurgitate fearmongering. They do it ad nauseam. On August 3, CNN headlined “US issues global travel alert, to close embassies due to al Qaeda threat.”
Embassy closings and travel alert warning remain in place. Britain and Germany said they’ll “close their embassies in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Sunday and Monday. The UK Foreign Office said it was a precautionary measure.”
An unnamed US senior official in Yemen called the threat there “much worse than it has (been) in a long time.”
According to other unnamed US officials:
“Various Western targets – not just those tied to the United States -are under threat.”
Former US ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill said:
“There have been incidents where they’ve closed down a number of embassies in the Middle East because the information is not specific enough to say that ‘embassy X’ got to be closed as opposed to other embassies.”
“But I think this, closing all of these embassies in the Middle East to North Africa, is in fact unprecedented. At least, I didn’t see this during my career.”
Unsubstantiated fearmongering lacks credibility. The usual “experts” hype it. US broadcasters and cable channels feature them. So do major broadsheets.
Notable past terror attacks were false flags. Perhaps Obama has another one in mind. Perhaps multiple ones. Maybe something major.
Last April’s Boston Marathon bombing was a black ops scheme. It was state-sponsored terrorism. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were set up. They were innocent patsies.
They had nothing to do with it. Police murdered Tamerlan in cold blood. Dzhokhar faces longterm hard time.
The FBI bears responsibility for US terror plots. So does CIA. It’s longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated.
Bush declared war on terrorism. Obama continues what he began. Washington needs enemies. When none exist, they’re invented.
Muslims are America’s target of choice. Innocent victims are entrapped. Doing so lets FBI operatives claim fabricated war on terror victories.
It lets NSA officials saying spying uncovers plots before they hatch. It lets America get away with murder. It does so on a global scale.
Lies, damn lies, and repeated lies facilitate state sponsored terrorism. It remains ongoing. Lots more is planned. America’s waging war on humanity. It’s longstanding US policy.
‘TERROR ALERT’ IS FEARMONGERING THEATER
The time has come to remind Americans that “you can’t have 100-percent security and also have 100-percent privacy and zero inconvenience” or, in other words, why only the government can provide a veil of impenetrable protection, and why such things as personal privacy in an age of murderous Al Qaeda (the non-US funded variety, supposedly) terrorists lurking behind corners, are not only unnecessary but unpatriotic.
According to CBS, the “terrorist threat prompting the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates Sunday is the most specific, credible threat information in years” (even more credible than the Boston marathon bombers?) Specific but lacking the actual date, or timing, of an alleged “terrorist attack.” Information which, however, can not be shared with the general public for obvious reasons – just trust the government and ignore that spy drone peeking into your window to see if you are dutifully spending your daily quota of “confident consumer” fiat on Amazon.com.
See: the NSA can be used for more than just tracking down when Steve Cohen bought and sold shares of XYZ on inside information – it will be used to “disprove the negative” absence of a terrorist attack, and thus validate the billions of dollars spent to keep General Keith Alexander’s secret army in place.
For all those concerned why the US escalated the terror threat to “scramble like a headless chicken” here is CBS with more:
Intelligence officers have reporting from a reliable source that a major plot is under way and that the team to carry it out has been selected and is in place, Miller reports. The specificity ends there.
What authorities don’t have is the date, the timing or the target of the attack, which is why they have taken such an approach to warning potential targets, Miller reports.
The theater is so elaborate, even Obama stepped away from the golf course:
President Barack Obama’s top national security advisers held a meeting on Saturday to discuss “a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” the White House said.
“This afternoon, National Security Advisor (Susan) Rice chaired a meeting with the Principals Committee to further review the situation and follow-up actions,” the White House said in a statement, referring to the advisers group.
“The president has received frequent briefings over the last week on all aspects of the potential threat and our preparedness measures,” it said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were among those who attended the meeting, the White House said.
CIA MOVES TO KILL REAL BENGHAZI STORY: AL-QAEDA IN SYRIA ARMS SHIPMENT GONE BAD
The CIA is attempting to control the Benghazi story by forcing agency employees to sign nondisclosure agreements. The five employees, Fox News reported on Friday, had already signed similar agreements prior to the attack on the embassy building in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The attack killed four Americans, including ambassador Christopher Stevens.
In addition to nondisclosures, CIA employees were subjected to polygraph examinations on a monthly basis.
On Thursday, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that the network “uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA,” including word that “dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.”
The CIA is doing all it can to make sure the truth never comes to light. CNN characterizes the effort as unprecedented.
GOP members of Congress are attempting to steer attention away from the CIA and its real mission in Libya prior to the deadly attack. On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said incoming FBI director James Comey has 30 days to brief Congress on its investigation. “One of the pertinent questions today is why we have not captured or killed the terrorist who committed these attacks?” Chaffetz said during a news conference. “News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn’t been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?”
The man in question, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is a Libyan described by officials as the Benghazi leader of the al-Qaeda-affiliated militia group Ansar al-Sharia. It was learned after the attack that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade was paid by the State Department to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The group had “clear al-Qaida sympathies, and had prominently displayed the al-Qaida flag on a Facebook page for months before the deadly attack,” Max Rosenthal reported for Newsmax in May.
As to be expected, the establishment media has not reported the truth about what happened in Benghazi and why the CIA is scrambling to deep six the story.
In 2011, Ambassador Stevens was appointed to be the Obama administration’s liaison with the “budding Libyan opposition,” according to ABC News. Stevens and the State Department worked directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Belhadj has direct connections to al-Qaeda, Washington’s Blog pointed out on May 9, 2013.
On May 8, as a number of Benghazi cover stories were rising to the surface thanks to coverage by the corporate media, we reported the real story – the murder of Stevens wasn’t about a lame anti-Muslim video, as the media theatrically insisted, but was connected to an arms shipment destined for CIA mercenaries in Syria.
During an interview with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, radio talk show host John Baxter said the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus had nothing to do with an extramarital affair with his biographer, reserve Army officer Paula Broadwell, but was related to U.S. policy in the Middle East, ongoing “color revolutions” in the region, and specifically the operation underway to arm al-Qaeda in Syria and overthrow the al-Assad regime.
“Benghazi is not about Libya, Benghazi is about the policy of the Obama administration to involve the United States without clarity to the American people, not only in Libya but throughout the whole of the Arab world now in turmoil,” Baxter told Kudlow. “Benghazi is about the NSC directing an operation that is perhaps shadowy, perhaps a presidential finding, perhaps doesn’t, that takes arms and men and puts them into Syria in the guise of the Free Syria Army.”
Retired Lt. General William Boykin said in January that Stevens was in Benghazi as part of an effort to arm al-Qaeda. “More supposition was that he was now funneling guns to the rebel forces in Syria, using essentially the Turks to facilitate that. Was that occurring, (a), and if so, was it a legal covert action?” Boykin said during an interview with CNS News.
Boykin said Stevens was “given a directive to support the Syrian rebels” and the State Department’s Special Mission Compound in Benghazi “would be the hub of that activity.”
Naturally, the real story will be ignored by the New York Times and the rest of the establishment media. The CIA has shifted into overdrive in an effort to shut up those who know the real Benghazi story. Congressional investigations will attempt to cement the manufactured lies and propagate yet another official fairy tale.
Moreover, it now appears a manufactured al-Qaeda terror event may be in the works as the State Department issues a global travel alert and “fresh intelligence” supposedly indicates that al-Qaeda operatives in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning an attack against U.S. and Western targets, according to several U.S. Officials. In response, “the United States took the extraordinary step of shutting down embassies and issuing travel warnings,” CNN reports.
CIA ‘RUNNING ARMS SMUGGLING TEAM IN BENGHAZI WHEN CONSULATE WAS ATTACKED’
The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its ambassador was killed by a mob in the city last year, according to reports.
By Damien McElroy | telegraph.co.uk
Up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city during the attack last September on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to CNN.
The circumstances of the attack are a subject of deep division in the US with some Congressional leaders pressing for a wide-ranging investigation into suspicions that the government has withheld details of its activities in the Libyan city.
The television network said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.
Sources said that more Americans were hurt in the assault spearheaded by suspected Islamic radicals than had been previously reported. CIA chiefs were actively working to ensure the real nature of its operations in the city did not get out.
So only the losses suffered by the State Department in the city had been reported to Congress.
“Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings,” CNN reported.
Frank Wolf, a US congressman who represents the district that contains CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is one of 150 members of Congress for a new investigation into the failures in Benghazi.
“I think it is a form of a cover-up, and I think it’s an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way,” he said. “We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn’t any national security issue involved with regards to that.”
A CIA spokesman said it had been open about its activities in Benghazi.
“The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on US facilities in Benghazi,” a CIA statement said. “CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want,” the statement continued. “The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”
BENGHAZI WITNESSES FORCED INTO SILENCE? NEW CONCERNS OVER TERROR ATTACK AFTERMATH
Even as the White House labels Benghazi a “phony scandal,” a raft of new allegations and concerns is once again bringing the controversy back to the forefront in Washington.
Fox News has learned that at least five CIA employees were forced to sign additional nondisclosure agreements this past spring in the wake of the Benghazi attack. These employees had already signed such agreements before the attack but were made to sign new agreements aimed at discouraging survivors from leaking their stories to the media or anyone else.
CNN has also reported that dozens of people working for the CIA were in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and that employees are being intimidated into staying silent.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd pushed back on the claims in a written statement released Friday.
“CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want to and there is an established process to facilitate such communication on a confidential basis. The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress,” he said. “We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident.”
But the claims have fueled concerns by lawmakers that, while the government is spending much energy on keeping Benghazi personnel quiet, not enough progress has been made in tracking down those actually responsible for the strike.
Daily politics news delivered to your inbox: sign up for our newsletter
Lawmakers pointed to a report by CNN earlier this week in which Ansar al-Sharia leader Ahmed Abu Khattala told the network that nobody from the American government has contacted him. Ansar al-Sharia is a militant group in the region considered of high interest in connection with the attack.
“Even the investigative team did not try to contact me,” he told CNN.
Lawmakers penned a letter earlier this week to newly confirmed FBI Director James Comey urging him to aggressively identify and pursue the suspects.
“It has been more than 10 months since the attacks. We appear to be no closer to knowing who was responsible today than we were in the early weeks following the attack,” they wrote. “This is simply unacceptable.”
Some in Congress continue to press for a select committee to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, announced on Thursday that he plans to try and force a vote in Congress on creating such an investigative panel. House rules could make this an uphill effort for Stockman.
Separately, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., on Thursday issued two new subpoenas to the State Department for documents on Benghazi.
The White House earlier this week claimed it considers the controversy over Benghazi — specifically over how officials initially described the nature of the attack — as “phony.”
But the details about the lengths to which the government is going to keep people quiet has raised additional questions.
The CNN report said some CIA operatives are being forced to take “frequent, even monthly” lie detector tests. They’re reportedly trying to root out who is talking to reporters or members of Congress.
“You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation,” one source was quoted as saying.
The nature of that operation is unclear to this day. One source told CNN that 21 Americans had been working at the CIA annex in Benghazi at the time of the attack. Initially, the compound was merely described as a diplomatic consulate.
CNN CONFIRMS WORLD NET DAILY REPORTING ON GUN-RUNNING IN BENGHAZI
Lawmakers suspect CIA used U.S. compound in Libya
by Aaron Klein | World Net Daily
CNN is reporting lawmakers are speculating on the possibility U.S. agencies operating in the Benghazi compound attacked Sept. 11, 2012, were secretly helping to transfer weapons from Libya, via Turkey, to the rebels in Syria.
That possibility was first reported by WND two weeks after the Benghazi attack, when the news agency cited Egyptian security officials who said murdered U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens played a central role in arming and recruiting rebels to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In November 2012, Middle Eastern security sources further described both the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi as an intelligence and planning center for U.S. aid to the rebels, which included weapons shipments being coordinated with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Many rebel fighters are openly members of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
The information may help determine what motivated the deadly attacks in Benghazi.
The State Department told CNN it was helping the new Libyan government destroy weapons deemed “damaged, aged or too unsafe retain” but denied it was transferring weapons to other countries.
The State Department, however, clarified it “can’t speak for any other agencies.”
The CIA would not comment to CNN on the weapons-transfer reports.
Meanwhile, clarification on the weapons transfers may have inadvertently come through recent statements by a Libyan weapons dealer from a group hired to provide security to the U.S. mission in Benghazi. The dealer told Reuters he has helped ship weapons from Benghazi to the rebels fighting in Syria.
The detailed account may provide more circumstantial evidence the U.S. Benghazi mission was secretly involved in procuring and shipping weapons to the Syrian opposition before the deadly attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
In an interview with Reuters published in June, Libyan warlord Abdul Basit Haroun declared he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria. Most of the weapons were sent to Turkey, where they were then smuggled into neighboring Syria, he said.
Haroun explained he sent a massive weapons shipment from the port in Benghazi in August 2012, days before the attack on the U.S. compound. The weapons were smuggled into Syria aboard a Libyan ship that landed in Turkey purportedly to deliver humanitarian aid.
Ismail Salabi, a commander of the February 17 Brigade, told Reuters that Haroun was a member of the Brigade until he quit to form his own brigade.
The February 17 Brigade provided external security to the attacked Benghazi U.S. compound, including the villa where Stevens lived when he was in Benghazi. Stevens held his last meeting with a Turkish diplomat in the compound and ultimately died there in the attack.
The February 17 Brigade is part of the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Al-Sharia, a militia that advocates the strict implementation of Islamic law in Libya and elsewhere.
Ansar al-Sharia initially used Internet forums and social media to claim responsibility for the Benghazi attack. Later, a spokesman for the group denied it was behind the attack.
Witnesses told reporters they saw vehicles with the group’s logo at the scene of the Sept. 11 attack and that gunmen fighting at the compound had stated they were part of Ansar al-Sharia.
Some witnesses said they saw Ahmed Abu Khattala, a commander of Ansar al-Sharia, leading the attack. Contacted by news media, Khattala denied that he was at the scene.
Meanwhile, a Libyan official speaking to Reuters said he had allowed weapons to leave the port of Benghazi for Syria.
Haroun told Reuters he runs the weapons smuggling operation with an associate, who helps him coordinate about a dozen people in Libyan cities collecting weapons for Syria.
In May, WND reported the U.S. Benghazi compound was involved in weapons collection efforts.
In a largely unnoticed speech to a think tank seven months before the Benghazi attack, a top State Department official described an unprecedented multi-million-dollar U.S. effort to secure anti-aircraft weapons in Libya after the fall of Gadhafi’s regime.
The official, Andrew J. Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, said U.S. experts were fully coordinating the collection efforts with the Libyan opposition.
He said the efforts were taking place in Benghazi, where a leading U.S. expert was deployed.
In January, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed the efforts when she told Congress the CIA was leading a “concerted effort to try to track down and find and recover … MANPADS” looted from Gadhafi’s stockpiles.
Haroun did not mention any U.S. involvement in his weapons dealings.
However, last March the New York Times reported the CIA had worked with rebel commanders to coordinate the shipment of arms to the Syrian rebels since early 2012.
Last year, Business Insider alleged a connection between Stevens and a reported September shipment of SA-7 MANPADS and rocket-propelled grenades from Benghazi to Syria through Turkey.
Syrian rebels then reportedly began shooting down Syrian military helicopters with SA-7s.
Stevens’ last meeting on the night of the Benghazi attack was with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin.
One source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi “to negotiate a weapons transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists.”
‘Largest weapons shipment’
Fox News may find another one of its exclusive reports vindicated.
In October 2012, Fox News reported the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means “The Victory,” was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, 35 miles from the Syrian border, just five days before Stevens was killed.
The shipment, disguised as humanitarian aid, was described as the largest consignment of weapons headed for Syria’s rebels.
Fox News reported the shipment “may have some link to the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.”
That shipment seems to be the one described by Haroun in his Reuters article.
Both Haroun and his associate described an August 2012 shipment with weapons hidden among about 460 metric tons of aid destined for Syrian refugees.
A recent U.N. report appears to confirm that weapons were hidden in the Al Entisar.
A U.N. Panel found that the loading port for the shipment was Benghazi, that the exporter was “a relief organization based in Benghazi” and the consignee was the same Islamic foundation based in Turkey that Haroun told Reuters had helped with documentation.
GOP REP: OBAMA WHITE HOUSE IS HIDING BENGHAZI SURVIVORS AND CHANGING THEIR NAMES
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was on with Greta Van Susteren Thursday to discuss the Obama scandals.
This came after Jake Tapper at CNN broke the news that there were “dozens” of CIA operatives on the ground in Benghazi on 9-11 when the consulate came under attack and the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
Gowdy told Greta the Obama Administration is hiding the survivors, dispersing them around the country, AND changing their names.
“Including changing names, creating aliases. Stop and think what things are most calculated to get at the truth? Talk to people with first-hand knowledge. What creates the appearance and perhaps the reality of a cover-up? Not letting us talk with people who have the most amount of information, dispersing them around the country and changing their names.”
And, at the same time Obama is hiding the survivors around the country he’s calling Benghazi a ‘phony’ scandal.
BRENNAN SENT LETTER TO BENGHAZI ‘SURVIVORS’
By STEPHEN F. HAYES | The Weekly Standard
August 4, 2013
John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sent a letter to each of the CIA employees who were on the ground during the Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, inviting them to share information with Congress, according to three sources familiar with the missive. Brennan sent the letter in late May at the behest congressional intelligence committees, whose members remain interested in hearing from the survivors of those attacks.
The letter from Brennan, which remains classified, conveyed a message the CIA leadership was willing to support and facilitate communications between the CIA employees involved in the Benghazi attacks and congressional oversight committees. The letter did not generate additional responses from CIA employees in Benghazi.
The disclosure of the existence of Brennan’s letter comes amidst renewed interest in the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath triggered in part by a CNN report last week that “dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night” and “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret.” According to that report, “some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations,” part of “an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.”
THE U.S. TERROR SCARE
By Patrick Martin
August 5, 2013
The latest in a long series of US terror scares since the September 11, 2001 attacks has unfolded over the last three days, following a well-worn pattern.
Top officials of the executive branch issue vague and ominous alerts. Congressional leaders, after closed-door briefings by the intelligence agencies, echo the warnings. The media amplifies the alarm uncritically, seeking to stampede the public. Not a single voice is raised to question the claims or essential premises of the scare campaign.
A number of questions are raised by the global travel alert and closure of US diplomatic facilities throughout the Middle East announced on Friday.
First, there is the timing of the measures. They come after nearly two months of nonstop revelations about massive US government spying on the American people, including the collection of both metadata and the content of the telephone conversations and e-mail of virtually every person in the United States.
The Obama administration has been thrown on the defensive by the information made public by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, with the assistance of Guardian newspaper columnist Glenn Greenwald.
Only two days before the State Department alert, the White House received a rebuff when Russia granted one-year temporary asylum to Snowden. This allowed him to leave the transit zone at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and take up residence in Russia, freeing him from the threat of immediate deportation to a US prison cell or torture chamber.
At the same time, opinion polls continue to show that despite the smear campaign by the Obama administration and leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties, the majority of the American people regard Snowden as a whistle-blower engaged in a principled exposure of US government crimes, not a spy or traitor. A similar majority sees the mass surveillance by the NSA as a threat to democratic rights.
The congressional leaders who trooped to the television talk shows Sunday morning cited the latest terror scare as proof of the value of the NSA surveillance dragnet. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN, “The NSA program is proving its worth yet again… if you want to gut it, you make us much less safe and you’re putting our nation at risk.”
Saxby Chambliss, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, waved the bloody shirt of the 9/11 attacks, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “there has been an awful lot of chatter out there…about the planning that’s going on, very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.” He added, referring to the NSA spying, “If we did not have these programs, then we simply would not be able to listen in on the bad guys.”
The US media has played its usual reprehensible role, lining up to uncritically report the government’s claims as fact and promote an atmosphere of anxiety. There was not the slightest hint that previous such alerts have proven to be baseless, and no reference to the government’s record of lying to the people—from the lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq to the lies from Obama administration officials about NSA spying.
In its account, the New York Times alluded to the real political motives behind the government’s alarmist warnings. “Some analysts and Congressional officials,” it wrote, “suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the NSA’s data-collection programs, and if it showed the intercepts uncovered a possible plot, even better.”
Obama administration officials have provided no factual substantiation for their claims of a new and imminent terror threat, and they have admitted that no specific targets have been identified. The State Department bulletin issued Friday cited only the “potential” for terrorists to attack tourist areas and subway, rail, air and maritime services, a characterization, while deliberately chilling, so vague as to be meaningless.
This is not to say that terrorist attacks on US government facilities or even American citizens traveling abroad may not take place. US foreign policy, based on the constant threat or use of military violence against those deemed to be adversaries, to say nothing of frequent assassinations by drone-fired missile in a half-dozen countries, combined with support for brutal oil sheikdoms and Israeli repression of the Palestinians, continuously incites retaliation which may take the form of terrorism.
Moreover, there are sections of the American state and intelligence apparatus that would see such attacks as an opportunity for expanding their operations both at home and abroad and accumulating ever-greater resources. The US government has ample means at its disposal to engineer such a provocation.
It is a well-established but little-reported fact that virtually every terrorist attack or attempted attack in the United States from September 11, 2001 to last April’s Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by individuals who were either acting in collaboration with US government agents or had been under police/intelligence surveillance.
While the White House and the media point fingers at Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, there has been no reference in the course of the media firestorm to the tacit US alliance with Al Qaeda in the Syrian civil war or the links with radical Islamists in the overthrow and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
There have been frequent comments in the American media over the past several months, particularly in the wake of the NSA revelations, that a major new terrorist attack might provide the impetus for a sudden reversal in public hostility to the growing power of the military-intelligence complex. In this view, the United States is “one terrorist attack away from martial law.”
The model for this, as in much of the buildup of military-police power in America, is Hitler’s Germany. It was the 1933 Reichstag Fire—a supposed terrorist attack on the parliament building by a communist worker—that provided the pretext for Hitler’s assumption of dictatorial powers. It was later proven that the attack was organized and directed by the Nazi Gestapo.
There are, of course, significant differences between America in 2013 and Germany in 1933. But the extreme social antagonisms that drove German capitalism to resort to the Nazis to suppress the working class are being reproduced within the United States today. Nowhere in the world is the social gulf between the ruling elite and the vast majority of working people so acute as in America.
Moreover, the national security apparatus is an increasingly independent and assertive factor in American life, with military, police and intelligence operations accounting for nearly 90 percent of the federal government workforce—nearly 3 million people, a figure that rises to 5.5 million when military reservists and military/intelligence/security contractors are included.
It is this combination of mounting social inequality and the growth of militarism and repression that poses such a danger to the democratic rights of the American people. The Obama administration, far from representing a break with its predecessor, has carried the Bush administration’s repressive buildup to unprecedented dimensions.
For more than a decade, the so-called war on terror has been used as the overarching pretext for the erection of the infrastructure of a police state, including the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon’s Northern Command, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, military commissions, indefinite detention, extralegal drone assassinations and pervasive spying on the population.
These preparations are now encountering increasing resistance from people in the United States and internationally,
U.S. GOVERNMENT IN TURMOIL OVER ‘BIG NEW AL-QAEDA PLOT’ WHILE OBAMA FUNDS THEM
August 5, 2013
The mainstream media is reporting on the latest ‘big terror’ threat from al-Qaeda that is apparently the ‘most significant’ threat in years, yet they simultaneously fail to mention that the Obama administration is all the while funding al-Qaeda through arming and financing Syrian rebels that have major ties to the group.
Surely this essential point is at least worth mentioning when you consider the fact that Obama even initiated the large-scale arming of the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels through a ‘secret order’, which was reported by mainstream news outlet Reuters back in 2012.
It was this ‘secret order’ that began the steady stream of arms and resources towards the Syrian rebels group that even the mainstream media admits goes around killing all Christians and innocents who fail to submit to their cause via public beheadings.
These barbaric rebels are truly a respectable group that Obama has chosen to fund with taxpayer dollars, equip with assault weapons (which he meanwhile attempts to ban in the United States), and is now pushing for yet another year of full-fledged funding despite the reports of beheadings and boundless bloodlust exhibited by the rebels.
But none of that matters to the mainstream media now, which is absolutely flailing around yelling about this new ‘big threat’ from al-Qaeda that apparently has around two dozen United States embassies closed within the Middle East and North Africa. Senator Saxy Chambliss, who actually was the first major politician to reveal key points regarding the Boston bombing intel, says the new threat is the ‘most serious’ he has seen ‘in years’. ABC News is now even reporting that it is a planned attack that is one of the biggest ever caught on record.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, told ABC News:
“We received information that high level people from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack… And these are people at a high level.”
It’s all coming from al-Qaeda, the same group Obama is funding through the Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad via chaos and bloodshed. So which is it, are al-Qaeda members the good guys or the bad guys? Well, it seems the mainstream media will flip and flop all day on this issue whenever convenient. Because just looking back at recent news, the argument wasn’t even about whether or not we should be funding the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels, but whether or not we were giving them ‘enough‘ funding.
Watch as this story develops, and watch as they ignore this key factor I am addressing to you. Instead of discussing it, watch as al-Qaeda transitions to the bad guy once again in order to escalate ‘security’ measures within the United States for law-abiding citizens. Checkout this video I recorded exposing how Obama funds the Syrian rebels who kill Christians and other innocents who do not convert to their cause for a full breakdown, and be sure to share this information to combat the media madness.
IS THE GOVERNMENT EXAGGERATING THE THREAT OF TERROR FOR POLITICAL REASONS?
August 5, 2013
The congressmen who take the most money from the military-industrial complex – I mean uber-hawks – like Lindsey Graham and Saxby Chambliss say that the new terror warning shows that NSA spying is needed, after all.
On the other hand, a variety of people – including former CIA agent Barry Eisler, and Guardian columnists Michael Cohen and Glenn Greenwald – say that the terror alerts are political theater to try to distract attention from the embarrassing leaks about out-of-control mass surveillance on Americans.
Initially, it doesn’t matter whether or not there is a real new terror threat because the government’s mass spying doesn’t keep us safe . In fact, it distracts energy and resources away from actual counter-terror measures which would actually help to protect us … and thus makes us more vulnerable to terror attacks.
Indeed, if the risk of terror is increasing again, it’s because the government has squandered its intelligence resources on political shenanigans – and on counter-productive anti-terror strategies – instead of focusing on keeping us safe.
(It may also have something to do with the fact that the U.S. government is directly supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria and many other countries.)
Of course, terror warnings have long been used for political purposes. For example, FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, a top constitutional and military law expert, Time magazine, the Washington Post and others have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”. Indeed, the former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge admitted that he was pressured to raise terror alerts to help Bush win reelection.
The threat from Al Qaeda – while real – has been greatly exaggerated. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – also a top foreign policy advisor to President Obama – told the Senate that the war on terror is a “a mythical historical narrative“. (And statistics arguably show that many terror attacks are actually carried out by non-Muslims.)
Is it entirely a coincidence that the current terror scare comes mere days after a new, widely-quoted Pew poll revealed that Americans are now more concerned about civil liberties than terrorism?
(And see this.)
And right after NSA boss Alexander was publicly booed and ridiculed?
It might be. But false threats have long been alleged to promote political agendas. For example, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld made false claims exaggerating the threat posed by Russia’s weapons in the 1970s to justify huge increases in military spending.
And there is a mountain of evidence that government officials intentionally lied about Iraqi WMDs.
And most people don’t remember, but the government also tried to falsely blame the anthrax attacks on Iraq as a justification for war.
Other historical examples include:
- The U.S. Navy’s own historians now say that the sinking of the USS Maine — the justification for America’s entry into the Spanish-American War — was probably caused by an internal explosion of coal, rather than an attack by the Spanish.
- It is also now well-accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which led to the Vietnam war was afiction (confirmed here).
- Two lies were used to justify the 1991 Gulf War: the statement that Iraqis murdered Kuwaiti babiesand the statement that a quarter of a million Iraqi troops were massed on the border with Saudi Arabia (see also this article)(technically, the statement about Kuwaiti babies did not come from the U.S. government, but from a public relations firm hired by the government).
(That is also why governments from around the world have used false flag incidents for thousands of years to sell their people on whatever wars they wish to launch.)
In any event, it might be smart to take the claim that the new terror warnings justify NSA spying with a wee grain of salt.
CBS NEWS: TERRORISTS ALREADY HAVE ORDERS, COULD BE IN PLACE FOR ATTACKS
August 5, 2013
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — U.S. intelligence officials are dealing with the most credible terrorist threat in years as 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa remain closed through this upcoming Saturday.
CBS News reports that a large-scale attack may be imminent as al-Qaeda terrorists in the Arabian Peninsula already have their orders and could be in place for execution of the alleged plot.
Juan Zarate, a CBS News security analyst, says this recent plot is similar to one from 2010 in which several European sites were targeted.
“People were worried about Mumbai-style attacks coming from the al-Qaeda core,” Zarate said, adding, “It never materialized but officials were worried that they actually had operatives in place. And, that’s a great concern here.”
The State Department said 19 diplomatic posts will remain closed through Saturday “out of an abundance of caution.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is “not an indication of a new threat.”
Diplomatic facilities in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antananarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis are instructed to close for normal operations through Saturday, Aug. 10.
In recent days, U.S. officials have said they have received significant and detailed intelligence suggesting a possible attack, with some clues pointing to the al-Qaeda terror network. The State Department said the potential for terrorism was particularly acute in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring on or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.
“The threat was specific as to how enormous it was going to be and also that certain dates were given,” Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., who chairs a House panel on counterterrorism and intelligence, told ABC on Sunday.
King said he believes al-Qaeda “is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11 because it has mutated and it’s spread in dramatically different locations.” The terror network’s Yemen branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, “is the most deadly of all the al-Qaeda affiliates,” King said.
Zarate, the former Deputy National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, concurred with King’s assessment.
“The problem is you’ve had the rise of the al-Qaeda affiliates, groups in Yemen, North Africa, East Africa,” Zarate said. “Those groups have taken up the strategic and operational mantle for al-Qaeda and the group in Yemen has been the most dangerous because they want to hit the United States.”
Zarate also warned of the resurfacing of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the terror group’s top bomb maker, who was thought to have been killed in a drone strike last year.
“He’s innovative. You’ve seen in the last two plots that have come from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that have targeted the United States the best innovation we’ve seen in terms of bomb making yet,” Zarate said. “You have techniques perhaps like surgically inserted bombs at play in this plot.”
U.S. EXTENDS EMBASSY CLOSINGS; WARNINGS RENEW DEBATE OVER NSA DATA COLLECTION
By Ali Watkins, David Lightman and Adam Baron | McClatchy Washington Bureau
WASHIGNTON — The closing of U.S. embassies in 21 predominantly Muslim countries and a broad caution about travel during August that the State Department issued on Friday touched off debate Sunday over the National Security Agency’s sweeping data collection programs.
Congressional supporters of the program, appearing on Sunday morning talk shows, said the latest rounds of warnings of unspecified threats showed that the programs were necessary, while detractors said there was no evidence linking the programs, particularly the massive collection of cell phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans, to the vague warnings of a possible terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, there were no reports of violence or unusual activity in any of the countries where the United States had kept its embassies and consulates closed when they would have ordinarily been open on Sunday. Nevertheless, the State Department announced that embassies and consulates in 16 countries would remain closed throughout the week, including four African nations that had not been on the original list. Diplomatic posts in five other countries would reopen Monday, the State Department said, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq, where terrorist attacks have been frequent.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the extended closures were “not an indication of a new threat stream.”
“Given that a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates,” she said.
An official who’d been briefed on the matter in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, told McClatchy that the embassy closings and travel advisory were the result of an intercepted communication between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri in which Zawahiri gave “clear orders” to al-Wuhaysi, who was recently named al Qaida’s general manager, to carry out an attack.
The official, however, said he could not divulge details of the plot. AQAP’s last major attack in Sanaa took place in May 2012 when a suicide bomber killed more than 100 military cadets at a rehearsal for a military parade.
“Al-Qaida is on the rise in this part of the world and the NSA program is proving its worth yet again,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“This is a good indication of why they’re so important,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a leading critic of the program, took the opposing position on CNN, saying the program that has raised the most opposition in Congress, the daily collection of so-called cell phone metadata that details numbers called, the location where a call originated, and the length of a call, appears to have had nothing to do with either the closing of the U.S. diplomatic outposts or the travel advisory.
“If you look at the one that’s most at issue here, and that’s the bulk metadata program, there’s no indication, unless I’m proved wrong later, that that program, which collects vast amounts of domestic data, domestic telephony data, contributed to information about this particular plot,” he said.
The disagreement highlighted the growing debate over the domestic versus international component of the NSA’s data collection efforts, an issue that has become increasingly convoluted in controversies surrounding the agency.
There are two communication intercept programs in particular that have come under scrutiny in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, both of which operate under different provisions of U.S. law.
The collection of the telephone records was authorized by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the collection of business records without a subpoena. In early June, Snowden revealed that the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court had secretly ordered a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA on a daily business the metadata for all of its cell phone accounts, the first confirmation that the NSA was collecting records on millions of U.S. cell phones.
A second program was authorized under a separate law, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that program the NSA collects data on Internet traffic that moves through nine Internet companies, including Facebook and Yahoo. NSA has insisted that only data about accounts outside the United States is collected.
Obama administration officials have struggled in recent weeks to clearly articulate how successful either program has been in thwarting terror plots in the face of open skepticism by some members of Congress. Instead, officials told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that individual successes of the programs are impossible to determine.
“That’s a very difficult question to answer in so much that it’s not necessarily how these programs work. That’s actually not how these programs work,” NSA Deputy Director John Inglis said when asked how many terror plots the telephone metadata programs had been critical in identifying. “What happens is you simply have a range of tools at your disposal.”
The distinction between the two programs has become an important part of the NSA debate as more and more lawmakers have proposed legislation to reform the agency’s practices when it comes to domestic metadata collection.
“Do we need to collect all of the phone records of all of the people living in America for five years so that if we’re going to target one particular person we’re ready to jump on it?” Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill, asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Last week, Durbin inserted a provision into a defense spending bill that would require the NSA to detail how many Americans had been affected by the collection of phone records, how much it cost NSA to collect and store those records, and to list any specific plots that had been thwarted by those records. The Appropriations Committee approved the provision and it the Senate will consider the legislation when it reconvenes in September.
Durbin said that President Barack Obama had said he was “open to suggestions” on making the NSA program more transparent during a meeting with nine members of Congress last week.
Graham, however, seemed to indicate that the fight to curb the NSA programs is likely to be fierce.
“To the members of the Congress who want to reform the NSA program, great; but if you want to gut it, you make us much less safe and you’re putting our nation at risk,” he said. “We need to have policies in place that can deal with the threats that exist, and they are real and they are growing.”
The Sunday embassy closings became part of that argument, despite questions about what role either program might have played or how real the threat will turn out to be.
“The good news is that we picked up intelligence. That’s what the NSA does,” said Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” he said, “NSA’s sole purpose is to get information intelligence to protect Americans from attack.”
Chambliss had a similar view. “These programs are controversial, we understand that. They’re very sensitive. They’re what allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter we refer to,” he said.
“If we did not have these programs we wouldn’t be able to listen in on the bad guys. And I will say it’s the 702 program that’s allowed us to pick up on this chatter.”
Just what role the programs had in intercepting the communication is yet to be known.
The State Department list of extended closings included embassies and consulates in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Libya, Djibouti, Sudan, Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius – the last four of which had not been on the list announced Friday. Embassies and consulates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Mauritania would reopen on Monday.
In Sanaa, the epicenter of concern, Yemeni officials said they were on high alert, but there was little evidence that anything was amiss. Traffic clogged major arteries as residents prepared for the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The Yemen-based AQAP has been the most active al Qaida chapter in recent years in attempting attacks on U.S. targets. In 2008, it launched an assault on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa and was responsible for the failed 2010 Christmas Day plot to detonate a bomb hidden a passenger’s underwear aboard a plane landing in Detroit.
But the organization is under increasing pressure. AQAP recently acknowledged the death in a January drone strike of its deputy leader, Said al-Shihri, and many in Yemen expect AQAP to try to avenge his death.
In addition, a U.S.-backed government offensive against Ansar al Shariah, an AQAP-affiliated militant group, has pushed the group from its strongholds in Abyan and Shabwa provinces though it still retains its bastion in Abyan’s mountainous district of al Mahfad.
Analysts say they believe the promotion of AQAP’s head to a major position in the core al Qaida franchise is likely to increase pressure on the group to strike out.
U.S. EMBASSIES IN MIDEAST, NORTH AFRICA PREPARE TO CLOSE OVER SECURITY THREAT
By Anne Gearan, The Washington Post
U.S. embassies and other installations across a wide arc of the Middle East and North Africa prepared Saturday to close or take additional precautions against a threat linked to al-Qaeda that could be directed against U.S. interests overseas Sunday.
President Obama’s top national security advisers met at the White House on Saturday to discuss the potential threat of terrorist attacks. The White House said top officials including Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and national security adviser Susan Rice gathered to discuss the matter.
“Early this week, the president instructed his National Security team to take all appropriate steps to protect the American people in light of a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” the White House said in a statement.
“This afternoon, National Security Advisor Rice chaired a meeting with the Principals Committee to further review the situation and follow-up actions,” it said, referring to the group of advisers.
Interpol issued a global security alert Saturday warning its 190 member countries to be more watchful for signs of violence following prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. The international law enforcement agency said it is investigating to determine whether the breaks, which freed hundreds of militants, are related.
Interpol advised that since al-Qaeda is suspected in some of the prison incidents, member nations should be on the lookout for information that might point to any coordination among the attacks, and to locate the escapees.
A Taliban-led prison break in Pakistan on Wednesday freed hundreds of militants. A sophisticated and heavily armed July 22 assault on Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison freed about 500 convicts, including al-Qaeda operatives. In Benghazi, Libya, more than 1,000 inmates broke out of a prison July 27.
The Interpol alert followed an unusual worldwide caution for American travelers issued Friday that warned that the al-Qaeda terror network may by planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
The travel alert was based on unspecified intelligence information about threats. The warning came a day after the State Department order that 21 embassies and consulates close on Sunday, usually a workday in the Middle East and several other regions.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, said the closures and travel warning are not related to rumors of a possible military crackdown Sunday by the Egyptian military against protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Britain also announced that its embassy in Yemen will close on Sunday and Monday, citing heightened security concerns related to the closing days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday that follows. Ramadan ends Wednesday. Germany had already announced a similar move.
19 U.S. POSTS TO REMAIN CLOSED THIS WEEK, AS LAWMAKERS SAY TERROR THREAT ‘SPECIFIC’ AND ‘SERIOUS’
Published August 04, 2013
The State Department has announced that it will keep several embassies in the Middle East and Africa closed throughout the week “out of an abundance of caution” in the wake of terror threats that shut them down.
Posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antanarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali and Port Louis have been instructed to close for normal operations from Monday through Saturday, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The State Department also said some of those embassies were already going to be closed in accordance with local customs marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Those authorized to reopen Monday are in Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah and Erbil.
Capitol Hill lawmakers, including top-ranking members of intelligence committees, on Sunday described the terror threat that closed 22 U.S. embassies and consulates across the Muslim region as the most serious one since before the 9/11 attacks and related to specific act or plot.
Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that U.S. intelligence agents detected a “very specific” threat and suggested they have known about it for at least several weeks.
He was among several congressional lawmakers Sunday who said the threat was gleaned from so-called “chatter” from phone lines, computer outlets, websites and other communication outlets.
Rooney also said the information is not what intelligence committee members “see on our regular briefings.”
The Obama administration’s decision Friday to close the U.S. outposts Sunday came the same day as the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert.
Rooney suggested Sunday the travel warning will not be lifted soon.
“If I had plans to travel to certain places in the Middle East, I would probably go ahead and cancel them,” he said.
Rooney’s comments followed Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the threats are “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.”
He also described the threats as “the most serious … I’ve seen in a number of years.”
Sources confirmed with Fox News the chatter was picked up over the past two weeks and exceeds anything in the past decade. They also said the extraordinary volume of chatter was preceded by months of “absolute quietness.”
The sources said the chatter included Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri demanding that key leaders of the terror network in the Arabian Peninsula step up their activities in the wake of recent killings of top terrorists.
A Mideast diplomat said al-Zawahiri’s “pressuring” of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to launch new terrorist attacks on American and other Western targets is “unprecedented.”
The sources also said the U.S. outpost closings and the travel alert were prompted in part by a series of recent Al Qaeda-led prison breaks that have freed hundreds of operatives over the last month, including one this weekend in Aleppo, Syria. Other recent breaks have been orchestrated in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan and Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan.
Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also said the intercepted threats came from “high-level people” in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
He told ABC’s “This Week” the information was about a “major attack.”
Yemen is home to Al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate, blamed for several notable terrorist plots on the United States. They include the foiled Christmas Day 2009 effort to bomb an airliner over Detroit and the explosives-laden parcels intercepted the following year aboard cargo flights.
New York Republican Rep. Pete King, who leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, said the threat included dates but not locations of possible attacks.
“The threat was specific as to how enormous it was going to be and also that certain dates were given,” he said on ABC.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a House Intelligence Committee member, said the “breadth” of the closures suggests U.S. authorities are concerned about a potential repeat of last year’s riots and attacks at multiple embassies, including the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
In addition, Interpol, the French-based international policy agency, has issued a global security alert in connection with suspected Al Qaeda involvement in the recent prison escapes.
Schiff also said the breaks add to the concerns about an attack and noted the approaching end of Ramadan.
“So you have a lot things coming together,” he said. “But all of that would not be enough without having some particularly specific information,” he said.
The administration’s announcements Friday said the Al Qaeda network might target either U.S. government or private American interests.
The intelligence intercepts also prompted Britain, Germany and France to close their embassies in Yemen on Sunday and Monday. British authorities said some embassy staff in Yemen had been withdrawn “due to security concerns.”
Canada also announced it was closing its embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
UK EMBASSY IN YEMEN TO CLOSE AMID GLOBAL TERROR ALERTS
By Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News
The British embassy in Yemen is to shut temporarily and several other embassies have been told to be vigilant after the US issued a terrorism warning.
The embassy in Sanaa will be closed on Sunday and Monday, as will the embassies of France and Germany.
The US reportedly intercepted al-Qaeda messages and will shut at least 21 embassies and consulates on Sunday.
Interpol issued a separate global security alert, citing jail breaks linked to al-Qaeda in nine countries.
The international policing organisation said “hundreds of terrorists” had been freed during breakouts in countries including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan in the past month.
Interpol said al-Qaeda was suspected of “involvement in several of the breakouts” and asked its 190 member states to help “determine whether any of these recent events are co-ordinated or linked”.
The British embassy in Yemen had already been operating with a reduced staff “due to increased security concerns”.
A Foreign Office spokesman said the closure was a “precautionary measure” and would not say if it was due to a specific threat, but a number of British embassies in the Middle East have been warned about increased risks.
Security analyst Peter Bergen said militant group al-Qaeda had previously showed “strong interest in launching attacks” on the 27th day of Ramadan, which is on Sunday.
Robin Simcox, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, which monitors threats from al-Qaeda, told the BBC he believed US authorities had intercepted communications “between senior al-Qaeda leaders talking about an operational and clearly viable plot against an embassy”.
The claim was reported by the New York Times.
Mr Simcox said it was unclear which embassy was to be targeted, but Yemen is a high-risk country because al-Qaeda’s “most active franchise” is based in the Arabian Peninsula and the US has stepped up drone attacks in Yemen in recent days.
He said there had been a “lull” in the drone attacks in Yemen in the past two months, and said the sudden increase suggested the latest threat was “emanating from Yemen itself”.
Hundreds of Britons are thought to be living in the country.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We keep travel advice and the security of our staff and missions under constant review.
“Our travel advice advises particular vigilance during Ramadan, when tensions could be heightened. We are particularly concerned about the security situation in the final days of Ramadan and into Eid.”
The Islamic holy month ends next week.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: “The government must also now urgently review security at Britain’s other postings in the region given moves by other countries to withdraw staff for their security.”
Iona Craig, the Times’ correspondent in Yemen, said very few British people now remain in the country, mostly working for the embassy, charities, UN organisations and oil companies.
She said “the threat to foreigners here has definitely increased” in recent months.
She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme British embassy staff in Yemen now live on-site, following two attacks in 2010.
- In April 2010, a suspected al-Qaeda suicide bomber tried to kill the British ambassador to Yemen in Sanaa. No-one except the attacker was killed.
- In October 2010, militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a car carrying Britain’s deputy ambassador in the Yemeni capital. One embassy worker and two bystanders were injured.
On its website, the Foreign Office was already advising against all travel to Yemen and urging British nationals to “leave now”.
It says there is “a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen” and “a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists”.
Unlike the US, the UK is keeping its embassies in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Iraq open, but it has advised staff to “exercise extra vigilance”.
In a statement, the US state department said: “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.”
The US issued a global travel alert on Friday, saying al-Qaeda was planning attacks.
BBC state department correspondent Kim Ghattas said it was “not unusual” for the US to issue travel warnings, but said “this one is both wide-ranging and somewhat specific”.
TERROR THREAT PROMPTS HIGH-LEVEL MEETING AT WHITE HOUSE
By Jonathan Easley – The Hill
August 4, 2013
The White House said top administration officials gathered late Saturday over a terror threat that provoked the State Department to close more than 20 diplomatic posts and issue a worldwide travel alert.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice chaired a meeting with 12 administration officials including the secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security and the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA, according to a White House statement.
Rice and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, then briefed President Obama on the latest developments.
On Friday, a White House official said that Obama had instructed his national security team to take every appropriate step to protect Americans after warnings from foreign officials, movement in the al Qaeda ranks, and new intelligence reports suggested a specific terrorist threat to U.S. and Western targets.
“The President is being updated on a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” the official said. “The President has directed his National Security Team to take all appropriate steps to protect the American people and will continue to be updated on a regular basis.”
Early Sunday, CNN reported that U.S. military forces, mainly combat-equipped Marines, were on heightened alert in southern Spain and Italy and in the Red Sea.
The network one day earlier reported that “fresh intelligence” and peaking “chatter” among al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula tipped off U.S. officials that the terrorist organization was in the final stages of planning attacks against a handful of U.S. and Western targets across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
The State Department’s travel alert said the threat was focused particularly in the Middle East and North Africa and was “possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.” Yemen has become a central focus of the warnings.
On Friday, CNN reported that Yemeni officials visiting Washington this week alerted U.S. officials to intelligence they’d obtained about the potential for a planned al Qaeda attack in the country in the coming days.
Al Qaeda’s Yemeni cell, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered one of the group’s most dangerous and well-funded factions in the world. The Yemeni group was responsible for three attempted airline bombings targeting the United States over the past several years.
Those warnings came amid reports that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda leader who replaced Osama bin Laden, has appointed a new official to manage the outfit’s terror network.
In addition, new protests erupted in Egypt, where the elected Muslim Brotherhood government was recently overthrown. Some media outlets are reporting that al-Zawahiri has issued two speeches this week criticizing U.S. policy in Egypt and urging Muslims in the region to unite.
Recent prison breaks also prompted INTERPOL to issue a global security alert. Prison escapes in countries including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan freed hundreds of terrorists and criminals.
The international police organization on Saturday said it suspects al Qaeda involvement in several of the breakouts and advised increased vigilance.
The security precautions by the Obama administration underscore the impact of last year’s deadly strike on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. The last time State Department officials issued such forceful warnings of a terrorist strike was prior to the Benghazi assault, which fell on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Republicans have criticized the administration for not being prepared for the strike that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed to the Benghazi attack as a reason for the State Department’s alert.
“It [is] just like before 9/11, the attack on Benghazi,” Royce said of the most recent State Department warnings. “At that point in time, remember, someone forgot to circle the calendar that it was 9/11. And we might want to preposition assets or have contingency plans in place.”
“This time … steps are being taken. And that’s to protect our personnel,” he said.
Friday’s precautions were issued on the 25th day of Ramadan, as the Muslim holy month comes to a close. The holy holiday is traditionally accompanied by a lull in attacks by Islamic extremist groups against U.S. and Western allies, but the time off also gives groups like al Qaeda the opportunity to build up their ranks and stockpile weapons.
CNN also pointed out that Sunday is the 27th day of Ramadan and known as the “Night of Power,” when the Prophet Mohammed came into contact with the first verses of the Koran. According to the network’s national security analyst, Peter Bergen the day is seen by potential Islamic martyrs “as a particularly auspicious day to die.”
OBAMA PLAYS GOLF ON BIRTHDAY DESPITE NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT
August 5, 2013
In the wake of violent political turmoil in the Middle East, Pres. Obama is going on vacation.
But is anyone surprised? Obama, who turns 52 years old today, left early this morning for Andrews Air Force Base, where he played a round of golf before heading to Camp David for birthday celebrations. Before heading to the links, Obama was briefed on al-Qaeda’s recent threat by a counter-terrorism adviser. On Friday, the State Department issued a travel warning to Americans and closed 21 embassies and other diplomatic buildings in Muslim areas of the world. Obama played the round of golf with three foursomes. The companions included aides and childhood friends. The president escorted the winners to Camp David via helicopter. Losers were forced to drive to the presidential retreat. Shouldn’t Obama be more concerned with his presidential duties than with golf?
SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: INTERCEPTED AL QAEDA COMMUNICATIONS INDICATE PLANNED ATTACK ‘BIG,’ ‘STRATEGICALLY SIGNIFICANT’
By Martha Raddatz and Jonathan Karl | ABC News
On the day that almost two dozen U.S. embassies and consulates across North Africa and the Middle East are closed following the identification of a significant threat from an al-Qaeda affiliate, a senior U.S. official is providing new details about the communications intercepted from the terrorists, telling ABC News that al-Qaeda operatives could be heard talking about an upcoming attack. The official described the terrorists as saying the planned attack is “going to be big” and “strategically significant.”
“The part that is alarming is the confidence they showed while communicating and the air of certainty,” the official said, adding that the group — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — appeared to have a media plan for after the attack.
Authorities do not know the exact target of the planned attack, according to the official.
“We do not know whether they mean an embassy, an airbase, an aircraft, trains,” the official said.
Today on “This Week,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-MD — the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — said the intercepted communications called for a “major attack.”
“We received information that high level people from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack,” Ruppersberger said. “And these are people at a high level.”
“It’s a very credible threat and it’s based on intelligence,” Ruppersberger continued. “What we have to do now is the most important issue, is protect Americans throughout the world.”
Ruppersberger also commented on the threat’s al-Qaeda connection, saying “We know that al-Qaeda and other people out there want to attack us and kill us and our allies.”
Read Gen. Martin Dempsey’s comments on the latest overseas terror threats here.
The senior U.S. official said there is concern about devices that could be implanted inside the body of a terrorist.
“We are concerned about surgically implanted devices,” they said. “These are guys who have developed the techniques to defeat our detection methods.”
The official also said authorities were stunned that the group broke “operational security” — meaning they talked likely knowing it would be picked up by intercepts.
ABC News reported Thursday that embassies across the Middle East and North Africa - including those in Egypt, Iraq and Kuwait – would close today because of “a specific threat against a U.S. embassy or consulate.”
The next day, the State Department issued a global travel warning to all U.S. citizens around the world, alerting them to the “continued potential for terrorist attacks.”
During an interview for “This Week,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told Martha Raddatz that there is “a significant threat stream and we’re reacting to it.”
PAT CADDELL: JOHN BOEHNER AIDING OBAMA COVER-UP OF BENGHAZI
Speaker of the House suppressing information on weapons transfers to Syrian rebels
Paul Joseph Watson
August 5, 2013
Pollster Pat Caddell charged Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner of aiding the Obama administration in its cover-up of the Benghazi scandal, claiming Boehner knew about weapons being smuggled out of Libya into the hands of Syrian rebels by the CIA.
“We have John Boehner who is purposely suppressing anything on Benghazi because he knew what we found out this week and he had approved it, these sales, these CIA teams on the ground which were sending weapons from Libya through Turkey to Syrian rebels without congressional approval,” said Caddell during an appearance on Fox News.
“We have a President who has suppressed the truth,” he added, noting how the CIA is now subjecting its operatives working in Libya to polygraph tests at least once a month in order to prevent them from leaking information to lawmakers or the media.
“The Congress won’t act in its own defense,” complained Caddell, with fellow Fox News guest and former Congressman John LeBoutillier agreeing that a cover-up was in full swing.
Boehner has faced mounting criticism from conservatives in recent weeks who are increasingly viewing the Congressman as a hindrance rather than a help in getting to the bottom of the Benghazi scandal. Last month, radio host Mark Levin accused Boehner of having, “cut some kind of deal with Obama.”
Last week, the mainstream media confirmed what Infowars.com and numerous notable political figures had been saying for months – that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi was linked to a CIA arms smuggling operation being run out of an annex situated near the consulate, with the weapons being sent to FSA rebels in Syria who are fighting alongside Al-Qaeda militants.
The notion that arms, including surface to air missiles, were being sent from Benghazi to militants and terrorists in Syria was voiced as far back as last November by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer during an appearance on the Alex Jones Show.
Despite such contentions repeatedly being voiced by prominent lawmakers such as Rand Paul, the story has only now garnered traction following CNN’s “exclusive” August 1st story which merely mimicked what was already in the public domain to a large extent.
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS SAYS: AL QAEDA TERROR THREAT ‘MOST SERIOUS’ HE’S SEEN IN YEARS
By David Sherfinski | The Washington Times
August 4, 2013
Members of both parties in Congress said on Sunday the threat that prompted the weekend shuttering of more than 20 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Muslim world is credible and real, with one senator calling it the “most serious threat I’ve seen in a number of years.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called it the “most serious threat I’ve seen in a number of years.”
“There’s an awful lot of chatter out there,” and it’s “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11,”Mr. Chambliss told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
He’s not the only senator who weighed in on the subject on Sunday.
“Shutting down the embassies makes sense … ,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union. “The goal is to drive us out of the Mideast. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda in Iraq, al-Nusra, all of them have one thing in common: They want to drive the West out of the Mideast and take over these Muslim countries and create an al-Qaeda-type religious entity in the place of what exists today. So this is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast. And if we ever take the bait and try to come home and create ‘Fortress America,’ you’ll have another 9/11.”
Mr. Graham says the U.S. has to show “resolve, but we have to be smart,” and that he still plans to travel to Egypt with Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, in the near future.
“We can’t let them get away with this. We have to stand up to them,” he said.
Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, agreed that the actions taken by the government were the right thing to do.
“We need to take every precaution necessary, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Mr. Ruppersberger said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Former NSA and CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on “Fox News Sunday” that it’s an indication that the threat of al Qaeda is not yet over.
“I can only imagine what it would have taken while I was in government in terms of the stack of evidence that would have been required for our government to take [these] kinds of action,” Mr. Hayden said. “Clearly, this is a serious thing. And it also kind of points out that this al Qaeda danger is not yet over and at least elements of al Qaeda are not yet totally on the run.”
“You have a real danger to Americans, you want to be cautious,” Mr. Hayden continued. “The announcement itself might also be designed to interrupt al Qaeda planning, to put them … on the back foot, to let them know that we’re alert, and that we’re on to at least a portion of this plot line.”
GRAHAM: AL QAEDA ‘ON STEROIDS’ SINCE BENGHAZI ATTACK
By Jonathan Easley – The Hill
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called the latest terror threat “scary,” and said that an emboldened al Qaeda has been “on steroids” since the last year’s deadly strike on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
“I had a briefing with the vice president and it is scary,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Al Qaeda is on the rise in this part of the world.”
“They attacked our consulate, they killed an ambassador, a year has passed, and nobody has paid a price,” he added. “After Benghazi, these al Qaeda types are really on steroids thinking we’re weaker and they’re stronger.”
Top administration officials huddled at the White House late Saturday over a terror threat that provoked the State Department to close more than 20 diplomatic posts and issue a worldwide travel alert.
According to multiple media reports, U.S. officials say they’ve obtained new intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is in the final stages of planning attacks against a handful of U.S. and Western targets across the Middle East and Northern Africa.
“The goal is to drive us out of the Middle East…they want to drive the West out of the Mideast and take over these Muslim countries and create an al Qaeda-type religious entity in the place of what exists today,” Graham said. “So this is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast, and if we ever take the bait and try to come and home and create fortress America, there will be another 9/11.”
The South Carolina Republican said the Obama administration has handled this latest round of threats properly after having “dropped the ball” on Benghazi.
“I appreciate what the administration is doing, they’re taking the right approach to this,” he said. “Benghazi was a complete failure – the threat was real, the reporting was real and we basically dropped the ball. We’ve learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration’s doing this right.”
The security precautions by the Obama administration underscore the impact of the Benghazi strike, which fell on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
The last time State Department officials issued such forceful warnings of a terrorist strike was prior to that assault. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of being unprepared for the Benghazi attack.
REP. PETER KING ON TERROR ALERT: AL-QAEDA STRONGER THAN EVER
August 4, 2013
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Sunday warned of a stronger al Qaeda terrorist network, saying the administration made the right call in shutting down embassies and consulates and issuing a worldwide travel network.
“This is a wake-up call. Al Qaeda is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11 because it’s mutated and it’s spread and it can come at us from different directions,” King, the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula is probably the most deadly of all the al Qaeda affiliates.“
The White House has said the potential threat is “occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”
FEDERAL OFFICIALS BOOSTING SECURITY EFFORTS INSIDE U.S. HOMELAND
By MIKE LEVINE | ABC News WASHINGTON
Federal authorities are boosting security in the United States after intelligence agencies detected a credible threat to Western interests overseas and the government began closing diplomatic posts in some Muslim countries, according to homeland security officials.
The Department of Homeland Security is increasing security measures at airports, train stations and other transportation hubs, and expanding scrutiny of visitors coming into the United States, two officials told ABC News.
The FBI, meanwhile, is “working sources” and taking other “logical steps” to monitor any potential threat, an FBI official said.
The officials said the latest measures are being taken “out of an abundance of caution,” and the recent intelligence contains “no nexus” to the U.S. homeland. However, there is an “air of mystery” and “uncertainty of exactly what the target is,” one official said.
“As always, our security posture, which at all times includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an ever-evolving threat picture,” a DHS official said today in a statement to ABC News.
On Friday, DHS and the FBI sent a joint intelligence bulletin to local and state law enforcement agencies across the country, outlining the recent intelligence and urging authorities to remain vigilant.
Unlike many such bulletins sent to law enforcement agencies, the bulletin issued Friday was classified, reflecting the sensitivity and seriousness of the situation.
Also on Friday, the State Department issued a global alert to American citizens and announced that it would be closing more than 20 embassies and consulates.
“The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” said the alert. “Current information suggests that [Al Qaeda] and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond.”
The recent threat information is believed to be tied to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based group that sent the “underwear bomber” to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
One U.S. official said the latest embassy closings in Yemen and elsewhere are themselves taking place out of an abundance of caution “because of what the government doesn’t know.”
Many European countries have said they also will be temporarily closing embassies in Yemen.
UNEXPLAINED, CONFLICTING U.S. GLOBAL TERROR WARNINGS NOW EXTEND TO AMERICAN HOMELAND
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis
Saturday night Aug. 3, the global warnings issued last week by the US State Department and Interpol against terrorist attacks covering almost the entire Muslim world, suddenly reached the American homeland. Sunday morning, Aug. 4, as US missions closed in 22 countries, including Egypt and Israel, the New York Police Department went on high alert. Security was beefed up in high-profile areas outside houses of worship and transportation hubs, although Police Commissioner Ray Kelly complained that “a lack of specific information was cause for concern.”
Friday, Aug. 2 the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert warning to Americans overseas of potential al Qaeda attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Saturday night, National Security Adviser Susan Rice convened security officials on the situation. The White House stated: “Given the nature of the potential threat through the week, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and counter-terrorism Lisa Monaco has held regular meetings with relevant members of the inter-agency to ensure the US government is taking those appropriate steps.”
Nothing in this statement specified the nature of the “potential threat.”
Sunday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told the ABC that the threat was “more specific than previous ones” and “the intent is to attack Western, not just US interests.” He reported that the diplomatic facilities closed “range from Mauritania in northwest Africa to Afghanistan.”
Western and Middle East terrorism and intelligence experts say that in additional to the lack of information, at least six elements don’t add up in the various global warnings released since Thursday Aug. 1:
1. Thursday, US President Barack Obama ordered that “all appropriate steps” be taken to protect Americans in response to a threat of an al-Qaeda attack. What does this mean? The experts comment that even if all US agencies were pressed into service worldwide, there is no way they could protect all Americans in the vast area marked out in the warnings.
2. If the threat is specific why does the warning extend to so many countries? Al Qaeda is not even active in all them. If the danger is so immediate, why haven’t any governments in North Africa and as far east as Bangladesh declared their own terror alerts?
3. US officials reported that some of the intelligence came from terrorist communications intercepted by the National Security Agency over the past days. This too raises questions, considering that al Qaeda leaders are wont to avoid electronic media and satellite phones for their communications on operations, preferring couriers who are not susceptible to electronic interception or eavesdropping. The Internet serves them for propaganda and planting red herrings.
4. In the past week, US drones conducted three attacks against al Qaeda targets in Yemen, where the organization is defined by US officials as al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate and capable of attacking the US embassy in Sanaa.
The last drone attack Aug. 1 killed five low-profile al Qaeda operatives, who were driving in a vehicle in the Qatan Valley of Hadramouth province (Osama bin Laden’s place of birth).
All 12 US drone attacks in Yemen of the last eight months targeted Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Although its deputy chief Said al Shiri, a former inmate of the Guantanamo Bay facility, was eliminated, AQAP’s entire high command has remained intact and fully functional. In other words, US intelligence counter-terror agencies have not discovered their whereabouts.
5. Neither have they run down the location of al Qaeda’s top leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Tuesday, he released a communiqué accusing US agents of engineering the coup which deposed the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood president by penetrating the Egyptian army. He called for more attacks on America.
6. Saturday, the international police agency, Interpol, published a global security alert following “the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals” in the past month, including jailbreaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. Interpol feared that the escapees would team up with al Qaeda to hit Western targets. Yet none of its 190 member states have declared terror alerts on this score either.
7. Finally, the sweeping warnnings from the Obama administration dramatically refute its own oft-heard claims that al Qaeda is no longer a force to be reckoned with, because it has lost its compact central command and control of its component branches, which have split up into regional franchises operating autonomously. Al Qaeda, they have been saying, is no longer capable of large-scale terrorist attacks on a global scale.
INTEL COMMUNITY WORRIED OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DISCLOSED TOO MUCH ABOUT LATEST AL QAEDA THREAT
Fear that sources and methods may have been compromised
By Lisa Ruth – The Washington Times Communities
In warning about possible al Qaeda attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials may have provided too much detail about intercepted chatter and the source of the information, and that may make it more difficult to get such tips next time, former and current intelligence officials say.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans, citing an unspecified al Qaeda threat. The bulletin said that the highest threat levels are the Middle East and North Africa, “and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arab Peninsula.”
As a result of the threat, the United States will close 21 embassies in 17 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia on Sunday, the traditional start of the work week in those countries.
On Saturday, unnamed U.S. officials told media outlets Yemeni intelligence agencies alerted Washington to the threat during the visit by the Yemeni president to Washington.
U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity further told press representatives that “chatter” among “operatives” from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had been taking place over the last several weeks, and increased over the last few days, lending further credence to the Yemeni warning.
Intelligence officials are dismayed that the administration provided so much detail on what prompted the closings, and that the disclosures could work against obtaining new information. Militants are now likely searching for the sources of the information to both the U.S. and Yemeni officials, and almost certainly will kill anyone they suspect of working with Western intelligence.
“There simply are not that many who would know about the attacks,” says one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence officer, “so it won’t be hard for al Qaeda leaders to pin-point the sources of information. Once that happens, they certainly won’t be working with us anymore.”
Other sources are also likely to reconsider their relationship with the United States over the disclosures. “These guys know their lives are in danger. As soon as the U.S. shows we can’t be trusted, they will go under ground and we won’t hear from them again,” says a current intelligence officer.
The officer explained that the terrorist threat is one of the most difficult targets in intelligence, and obtaining sources among terrorists is extremely hard.
“First of all, you’re dealing with a group that does not like Washington. If they have access to information, they are almost certainly highly indoctrinated. They live in remote areas of the world, are closely watched by their associates and speak languages U.S. intelligence officers rarely speak.
“You can’t just walk into an al Qaeda training camp and say, ‘Hi guys, I’m from the CIA and I would really like to hear what you have to tell me.’ Usually we have to use multiple layers of sub-sources to get any access at all, and even that is hard because these guys don’t trust anyone. Who do you think knows if they are going to attack an embassy? It’s something they hold very closely. You can’t believe how really hard this is.”
“Any statement like this, even though it seems relatively benign, will absolutely have repercussions. We’re going to have to start all over again,” adds an intelligence officer currently assigned to the Middle East.
Intelligence officers say Washington could have cited other reasons for closing the embassies, which likely did play into their decision-making. Recent drone attacks have successfully targeted militant leaders, raising the possibility of retaliation against the United States. Additionally, over the last month, al Qaeda has mounted attacks on numerous prisons to release al Qaeda prisoners. Ten days ago, al Qaeda took credit for breaking out more than 500 militants from Abu Ghraib prison, for example.
Sunday also marks the 27th day of Ramadan, known as “The Night of Power,” when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, and some analysts believe that date may encourage militants to launch attacks against “infidels.”
The statement that the threat could be from ” the Arab Peninsula” suggests that the terrorist group planning the operation is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That group has brown stronger over the last two years, according to intelligence sources. It has garnered new adherents and developed new weapons.
Moreover, the unsettled situation in Yemen has provided increased opportunities for the group to operate without scrutiny and to recruit followers. The group has launched numerous successful attacks over the last year, including the killing in early July of a former high-ranking government official responsible for counter-terrorism during his tenure.
The United States views AQAP as such a significant threat that it not only uses drone attacks to target the group, but it has also sent advisors to Yemen to help the military combat AQAP on the ground.
Intelligence, however, is the most successful method to counter terrorism. “How do drones know where to strike? How do we know where AQAP is going to target next? How do we know what people and resources to move to protect them? Intelligence. I can’t even begin to tell you how many attacks we have stopped thanks to intelligence. But we don’t go out and broadcast that to the world. It doesn’t work that way,” says the active intelligence officer in the Middle East.
“Now? We are going to have to start all over again. We are operating blind,” he says.
TERRORISTS BEHIND EMBASSY THREAT IN PLACE
By CBS News
The terror threat prompting the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates Sunday is the most specific, credible threat information in years, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reports.
Intelligence officers have reporting from a reliable source that a major plot is under way and that the team to carry it out has been selected and is in place, Miller reports.
The threat information has been described as the most specific and credible since the foiled plot to blow up British planes en route to the United States in 2006, Miller reports. The specificity ends there.
What authorities don’t have is the date, the timing or the target of the attack, which is why they have taken such an approach to warning potential targets, Miller reports.
The threat has prompted the U.S. to issue a global travel alert to all Americans for the first time since the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
White House officials said President Obama was briefed Saturday morning on the potential terrorist threat before departing for Camp David, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.
In a statement released Saturday night, the White House announced Mr. Obama was briefed again by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Lisa Monaco, his counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, after Rice chaired a meeting of top officials to review the threat.
In addition to Monaco and Rice, the meeting was attended by Army Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency; CIA Director John Brennan; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, among other officials.
Worldwide, 22 U.S. embassies and consulates are preparing to close their doors Sunday.
The State Department says there is a potential for a terrorist attack “particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Officials have specifically mentioned Yemen as a potential target. The country is home base for Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, also known as AQAP, a terrorist group that many now consider the most dangerous in the world.
Historically the month of August has been an active one for terrorist organizations.
Fifteen years ago this week, twin U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania claimed more than 200 lives and injured more than 4,000.
Next month also marks the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
CBS News senior national security analyst Juan Zarate said next week’s Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is often a period of increased violence.
“But I would say when al Qaeda is ready to attack, it tries to attack,” said Zarate. “A challenge for authorities will be understanding what this plot is and if they’re not able to divine or ferret out what’s happening, at what point they lift the alert and open up the diplomatic doors again.”
The travel alert issued for American citizens worldwide warns that both rail and airports could be targeted.
But at Dulles Airport near the nation’s capital, the warning is not discouraging passenger Nathan Brandeburg.
“I’m not too afraid to travel, especially with security the way it is,” he said. “I mean, we’re traveling with a lot of gear as well, and we have to go through all the security, so I know what it’s like. It doesn’t really bother me too much.”
U.S. TO CLOSE OVERSEAS EMBASSIES OVER SECURITY FEARS
Britain said it was reviewing safety at overseas embassies after America announced on Thursday it was closing an unspecified number of its missions around the Islamic world over security concerns.
By Barney Henderson, and Damien McElroy | telegraph.co.uk
August 2, 2013
US diplomatic posts in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries will close on Sunday out of concerns about a possible terror plot.
Marie Harf, state department spokesman, said it was a “precautionary” step, but declined to specify the threat or which US embassies would be closed.
“The Department of State has instructed certain US embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4,” Harf told reporters.
The decision was taken “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations,” she said.
Harf said that the embassies would be closed specifically on Sunday, with an assessment afterwards on whether to reopen them.
“It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well,” she said.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that Britain was aware of the announcement and was in “close contact with US authorities”.
“We will consider each of our embassies on a case-by-case basis; clearly the safety of all our staff overseas is always our highest priority,” the spokesman said.
Mrs Harf declined to specify from which part of the world the threat was detected.
The US has been especially cautious about security since an attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 last year.
Four Americans were killed in the attack, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and led critics in Congress to accuse the state department of insufficient security.
U.S. TO TEMPORARILY SHUT DOWN EMBASSIES AROUND THE WORLD SUNDAY AMID SECURITY CONCERNS
Published August 02, 2013
The United States will temporarily shut down its embassies and consulates around the world Sunday — including those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt — as a precautionary measure over terror-related concerns, State Department officials said.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf did not say how long the international installations would stay closed — only that the decision was taken “out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting.” Officials would not describe the nature of the threat.
Sunday is a normal workday in many Arab and Middle Eastern countries, meaning that is where the closures will have an impact. Embassies in Europe and Latin America would be shuttered that day anyway.
“We have instructed all U.S. embassies and consulates that would have normally been open on Sunday to suspend operations, specifically on August 4,” a senior State Department official said Thursday night. “It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”
Other U.S. officials said the threat was specifically in the Muslim world.
The issue of security abroad has been prominent since the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, and a string of demonstrations on other U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa.
On Thursday, measures to beef up security at U.S. embassies were passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill is in response to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The Senate bill creates a training center for diplomatic security personnel.
Separately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee authorized full security funding for diplomatic missions — despite recommending a nine percent cut overall for State Department operations.
The House and Senate have already approved spending bills that cover embassy security. But their budgets differ markedly in other areas.
STATE DEPARTMENT ISSUES WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT BECAUSE OF AL-QAIDA TERROR THREATS
By Brett LoGiurato | Business Insider
Aug. 2, 2013
The State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert because of the threat of terrorist attacks from al-Qaida and affiliated organizations, it said Friday.
The State Department cited the potential for terrorist attacks in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula.
“Current information suggests that al-Qaida 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,” the department said in a statement.
The department said that the alert does not expire until Aug. 31.
On Thursday, the State Department said it would close at least 18 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and surrounding areas because of the threats. On Friday, it confirmed it would close 21 posts in the region.
The full release from the State Department is below:
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. 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. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.
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. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website at travel.state.gov where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).