U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia closing after threats
Mission points to 'credible information' warning of terrorism
From Andrea Koppel
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia have been ordered closed temporarily because of concerns that terrorists are planning to launch an attack inside the kingdom, the State Department said Friday.
An advisory released Friday by the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh explained that the embassy "continues to receive credible information that terrorists in Saudi Arabia have moved from the planning to operational phase of planned attacks in the kingdom."
The British Embassy in Bahrain on Saturday warned its personnel of a terror attack threat. Bahrain comprises a collection of islands in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. State Department's closures affect the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. The advisory said the facilities would be closed Saturday. One State Department official said the facilities would remain closed on Sunday and Monday.
"The embassy strongly urges all American citizens in Saudi Arabia to be especially vigilant when they're in any area perceived to be American or Western," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
He said Washington is waiting for the embassy to report back "with their analysis of the security situation and their analysis of their ability to deal with the situation there to protect our people."
Boucher said the "situation has been dangerous, perilous for Americans in Saudi Arabia" and the U.S. government has been working with Saudi authorities since the triple bombings in May that targeted apartment complexes housing Westerners.
Those bombings left 23 people dead, including nine Americans. Twelve bombers were also killed in the attacks.
Saturday and Sunday are regular work days in Saudi Arabia. During the closures, U.S. diplomats will be reviewing security measures, explained the official.
Americans in the country will be informed when the review is done and the U.S. mission plans to go back to normal operations, the advisory said.
On Thursday, the State Department warned of threats of anti-American violence in the Middle East and North Africa, "including terrorist actions that may involve commercial aircraft and maritime interests."
The public announcement specifically mentioned the risk of such actions in the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
"Credible information has indicated terrorist groups may be planning attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East," the announcement said. "Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, hijackings or kidnappings."