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Is rash of brazen prison breaks related? Interpol wants to know

From Holly Yan, CNN
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun August 4, 2013
An Indonesian policeman outside the US embassy in Jakarta on August 4, 2013. Interpol issued a global security alert after jailbreaks linked to Al-Qaeda freed hundreds of militants.
An Indonesian policeman outside the US embassy in Jakarta on August 4, 2013. Interpol issued a global security alert after jailbreaks linked to Al-Qaeda freed hundreds of militants.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Interpol wants member countries to help determine whether prison breaks are linked
  • The U.S. closes 22 embassies and consulates around the world on Sunday
  • August has been a hot month historically for terrorist attacks

(CNN) -- Interpol has issued a global security alert, asking its member nations to help determine whether a rash of brazen prison escapes recently are linked.

Over the past month, prison breaks have taken place in nine Interpol member nations, the global police organization said in an alert this weekend.

"With suspected Al Qaeda involvement in several of the breakouts, which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals, the INTERPOL alert requests the Organization's 190 member countries' assistance in order to determine whether any of these recent events are coordinated or linked," the group said in the statement Saturday.

Opinion: What's behind timing of terror threat

Several high-profile escapes have garnered headlines in recent weeks:

A recently intercepted message among senior al Qaeda operatives alarmed the U.S. State Department and led to the closing of 22 embassies and consulates Sunday, August 4, across the Middle East and North Africa. On Sunday afternoon, the State Department said it had extended the closures in 15 of the locations until Saturday, August 10, and added four other posts to the list. Click through to see which facilities are affected, beginning with the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, which is closed for the week. A recently intercepted message among senior al Qaeda operatives alarmed the U.S. State Department and led to the closing of 22 embassies and consulates Sunday, August 4, across the Middle East and North Africa. On Sunday afternoon, the State Department said it had extended the closures in 15 of the locations until Saturday, August 10, and added four other posts to the list. Click through to see which facilities are affected, beginning with the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, which is closed for the week.
Intercepted message spurs embassy closings
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Embassy closings Embassy closings
Embassy threat alert

-- On July 23, an al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for attacks on two Iraqi prisons that a lawmaker said freed more than 500 inmates, including some senior members of the group. Militants used suicide bombers with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns to attack prisons as inmates inside rioted and set fires.

Where in the world could they strike?

Militant group claims responsibility for Iraq prison attacks

U.S. issues worldwide travel alert

-- On July 26, about 1,200 inmates spilled out of a prison in Benghazi, Libya.

-- And on July 30, Taliban gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked the largest jail in a northern Pakistani province, allowing about 200 inmates to escape, authorities said.

About 200 inmates escape in Pakistan Taliban attack on prison

Interpol's alert comes as the United States closes 22 embassies and consulates abroad amid fears that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

"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," a U.S. State Department travel alert read.

Interpol noted that August has been a fervent month for attacks.

"August is the anniversary of violent terrorist incidents in Mumbai, India, and Gluboky, Russia, as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia," the Interpol alert states. This month also marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in which more than 200 mostly African citizens were killed and 4,000 others injured, Interpol said.

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