Closed U.S. embassies to remain shut through Saturday

A Bahraini armored personnel vehicle and personnel reinforce U.S. Embassy security just outside of a gate to the building, surrounded in barbed wire, in Manama, Bahrain, on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. AP Photo

Updated 6:00 p.m. ET

The U.S. State Department announced it will extend the closures almost two dozen embassies and consulates, prompted by an uncovered al Qaeda plot, through Saturday due to an "abundance of caution."

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that a number of embassies and consulates were already going to be closed for the bulk of the week, in accordance with local custom for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and the extension is not indicative of another threat.

"This is not an indication of a new threat stream, merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities," she said.

Officials picked up clues into the al Qaeda operation against diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries over the weekend. House Homeland Security Chairman called it "one of the most specific and credible threats I've seen, perhaps since 9/11."

"We're on a high state of alert," McCaul on CBS' "Face The Nation." "I think the administration's call to close these embassies... was actually very, very smart call -- particularly in light of what happened in Benghazi, when warnings were not heeded in that case. I'm glad to see that in this case, they're taking this very seriously."

According to CBS senior investigative reporter Pat Milton, intelligence officials had gathered evidence of chatter from known terrorists that indicated a plot against U.S. diplomatic posts is "in the final stages" and that the nature of the chatter indicates "it could be big."

The State Department issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans on Friday until August 31, 2013.

Multiple attacks would echo the twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 15 years ago this week, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reported. More than 200 people died and 4,000 were injured.

Pegues also reported that even if there is no actual attack carried out in the days ahead, sources say the threat will continue into the future until there is clarity.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.