The United States has closed all
its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia after officials received what they said
was a warning of a serious threat of terrorist attacks in the kingdom. The closure
follows U.S. warnings last month of possible terror attacks during the Muslim
holy month of Ramadan.
A public affairs officer at the United States consulate in Jeddah, Robert
Keith, said the U.S. missions were closed as of Saturday after information
was received that terrorist attacks might be imminent.
"In light of the seriousness of the current threat, the embassy in Riyadh
and the U.S. consulates in general in Jeddah and Dharan will close on Saturday,
are closed on Saturday, November 8, basically to review their current security
position," he said. "The community will be advised when this review is completed,
and when the U.S. mission plans to resume normal operations. At this point,
we are closed today and we, as I say, are re-evaluating if we'll be closed
another day or two."
A report in Washington said the security review could last a week or longer.
The closure of the U.S. embassy and diplomatic missions follows U.S. warnings
to American citizens last month of possible terror attacks in Saudi Arabia
during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The U.S. State Department later told
Americans to defer non-essential travel to the kingdom, citing credible information
that terrorists could target western aviation and transport sites in Saudi
Mr. Keith, referring to the U.S. advisory announcing the closure of the U.S.
missions, said American citizens in Saudi Arabia were being asked to be especially
"The embassy here strongly urges all American citizens in the kingdom to
be especially vigilant when they are in an area that is perceived to be American
or Western," said Robert Keith.
Mr. Keith said he did not know how the move would affect a planned trip to the
kingdom by U.S. deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
More than 35,000 U.S. citizens live in Saudi Arabia, which has intensified
a crackdown on Muslim militants since attacks on Western residential compounds
in the capital, Riyadh, last May.
Police raids this week led the death of at least five militants who Saudi
authorities said were linked to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida
terror network he leads.
The United States began pressuring Saudi Arabia to rein in suspected Muslim
extremists after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, which
Washington has blamed on al-Qaida.
Fifteen of the hijackers involved in those attacks were identified as Saudi