US diplomatic posts in 19 cities will remain closed through Saturday

The State Department says U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the will be closed through Saturday “out of an .”

State Jen Psaki says the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is “not an indication of a .”

Diplomatic facilities will remain closed in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries.

The administration announced Friday that the posts would be closed over the weekend and the State Department announced a global travel alert, warning that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests.

Rep. , the Republican chairman of the House , said Friday the embassy threat was linked to al-Qaida and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia.

“We’ve had a series of threats,” Royce told reporters. “In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should.” He declined to say if the National Security Agency’s much-debated helped reveal the threat.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House , also supported the department’s decision to go public with its concerns.

“The most important thing we have to do is protect American lives,” he said, describing the threat as “not the regular ” picked up from would-be militants on the Internet or elsewhere.

The State Department issued a major warning last year informing American diplomatic facilities across the Muslim about potential violence connected to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Dozens of American installations were besieged by protests over an anti-Islam video made by an American resident.

In Benghazi, Libya, the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed when militants assaulted a diplomatic post, but the administration no longer says that attack was related to the demonstrations.

Friday’s alert warned that al-Qaida or its allies may target U.S. government or private American interests. It cited dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists, noting that previous terrorist attacks have centred on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats.

“U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when travelling,” the department said. It recommended American travelling overseas register with consular authorities on a travel registration website. The alert expires on Aug. 31.

Ruppersberger said the U.S. has invested greatly in research and protection system for U.S. embassies and citizens since the Benghazi attack.

“Intelligence is probably the best defence against terrorist attacks,” he said. “Intelligence isn’t always an exact science, but you have to react and you have to prepare. So we put people on notice and we also put the other side on notice.”

About David Weisz