The United States issued a worldwide travel alert on Friday warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August in the Middle East and northern Africa.
The State Department travel alert was based on the same intelligence information that prompted it to close 21 U.S. embassies or consulates this Sunday, a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula," its statement said.
It attributed the threat of attacks "between now and the end of August" to al Qaeda and affiliated organizations.
On Thursday, the department said U.S. embassies that would normally be open this Sunday would be closed that day because of unspecified security concerns.
On Friday, it released a list of the 21 diplomatic missions, including those in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Sudan, among other countries. (http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_6037.html)
The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, said on Friday that he and several other lawmakers met two days ago with Vice President Joe Biden on the threat.
"It's my understanding that it is al Qaeda linked ... and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia," Representative Royce said CNN's "New Day" program.