State Department: Canceling July 4 Celebration in Amman is ‘Prudent Precaution’
By Munir K. Nasser
And Albawaba.com Staff -- Amman
A State Department source has confirmed to Albwaba.com reports that the US embassy in Jordan has decided to cancel a reception at the ambassador's residence to mark the July 4th independence day over security threats.
The source refused to comment on the reason behind the cancellation and whether is it related to a real threat of a potential attack on the embassy.
He stressed that the cancellation of the celebration is prudent precaution. “Gathering a large number of officials and non officials and citizens of both countries in one place is not so smart act when you are under a terrorist threat,” he said.
The source, who asked not to be identified, added that the Fourth of July reception is a large gathering of not only official Americans but also American citizens and invited guests from the host country. “Obviously, if something did happen at that time, it would be disastrous,” he pointed out.
He said that a notice will go out on Friday to all people who were invited to the reception informing them of the cancellation.
The source said the full dimensions of the threat are not known so far. “At this point, the embassy has a warden message out that there has been a terrorist threat against it,” he said.
He added the State Department has issued a warning and “that’s what we have to this point.” He said another guidance will be issued, “but it will not be substantially different from the one issued last week.”
When he was asked about the security precautions taken to protect the embassy, the source said he would not comment on matters related to security procedures. He added, however, that the US government “has full confidence in the government of Jordan’s demonstrated ability and willingness to address security threats.”
US EMBASSY IN AMMAN DECLINES TO COMMENT ON SECURITY MEASURES
The US embassy in Jordan declined to comment further on the threats it received and the decision to cancel the reception. Asked by Albawaba.com whether any exceptional precautions have been taken around the embassy premises, either by the embassy itself or the Jordanian security. Dana Shell, the embassy spokesperson, said, “as always, we do not comment publicly on any aspect of security or security measures.”
Further, Shell said that she would not comment on the contents of the warden message issued earlier to US citizens Jordan.
"The Embassy of the United States regrets to announce the cancellation of its reception in celebration of the 224th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America which was scheduled for July 4," the statement read.
The message, monitored on the embassy’s web site, did not provide a reason but Shell had told AFP the decision was "part of an ongoing review of the situation at the embassy in light of a warden statement issued June 21".
The spokesperson said the embassy cannot get into the specifics about the issue, when asked whether there is a link between the suspected terrorist mastermind, Osama bin Laden and the threat to the embassy and the US citizens in Jordan.
Shell also refused to comment on the possible impact of the warning on tourism in Jordan.
Shell told AFP, however, that the United States "has full confidence in the government of Jordan and its ability" to fend off any threat against the embassy.
But she declined comment on the Jordanian information minister’s statement tuning down the threat, and describing it as “exaggerated.”
“I am the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Amman. I cannot really comment on anywhere else,” she said when asked if the US expects similar threats to its embassies in neighboring countries.
A warning posted on the embassy's website on June 21 said: "The United States government has information concerning terrorist targeting of the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan."
The warning said Washington did not know the full dimensions of the threat but nevertheless it urged US citizens in the kingdom "to "exercise prudence .... review their security practices and remain alert to changing situations."
"American citizens should avoid large crowds and gatherings, keep a low profile and vary routes and times of all required travel," it said.
"We cannot rule out the possibility that terrorists may also plan to target other venues in Jordan," the announcement said – Albawaba.com
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