The closures came with a call for Americans abroad to take extra precautions throughout August, particularly when using planes, trains and boats, though some veteran expatriates shrugged off the warnings.
“I have been here long enough to know where and where not to go,” said Brian Edwards, a professional basketball player from Detroit, Michigan, who has lived in Egypt for almost six years. “I feel generally safe.”
The State Department said 19 diplomatic posts will remain closed through Saturday “out of an abundance of caution.”
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is “not an indication of a new threat.”
The countries with closure orders covered much of the Muslim and Arab world, from Mauritania in the west to Bangladesh in the east.
In recent days, U.S. officials have said they have received significant and detailed intelligence suggesting a possible attack, with some clues pointing to the al-Qaida terror network. The State Department said the potential for terrorism was particularly acute in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring on or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.
“The threat was specific as to how enormous it was going to be and also that certain dates were given,” Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who chairs a House panel on counterterrorism and intelligence, told ABC on Sunday.
King said he believes al-Qaida “is in many ways stronger than it was before 9/11 because it has mutated and it’s spread in dramatically different locations.” The terror network’s Yemen branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, “is the most deadly of all the al-Qaida affiliates,” King said.
In Jordan, a counterterrorism official said available information pointed to a potential threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically in Yemen, and that this prompted the temporary closure of U.S. missions across the Muslim world. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue with journalists.