U.S. shutters embassies over intelligence reports
By Derek Baldwin
The United States will shutter its Abu Dhabi embassy on Sunday as well as more than 20 US embassies in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia amid intelligence reports of security concerns.
Officials confirmed there is a potential threat from a possible regional affiliate of Al Qaida and that the State Department is taking extra steps to ensure the safety of their dipliomatic missions.
Abu Dhabi officials, including Michael H. Corbin, American Ambassador to the UAE, could not be reached for comment yesterday by Gulf News.
In a press briefing, however, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that security issues were behind the move.
“The Department of State has instructed certain US embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday” Harf told reporters at her daily briefing, according to wire reports. “Security considerations have led us to take this precautionary step.”
Harf, reported Reuters, said the “department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations ... indicates we should institute these precautionary steps,” Harf said. “The department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety.”
The closure comes as the calendar nears one year after four Americans died in an attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on the 9/11 anniversary last year.
The attack killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.