Interpol alerts nations to watch out for escaped terrorists

(JTA) — An Interpol global alert asked member states to be on the lookout for escaped terrorists from prisons in countries including Iraq, Pakistan and Libya.

The alert issued Saturday came in the wake of a U.S. State Department order to close its Middle East embassies and consulates due to terror alerts.

The diplomatic missions were closed Sunday based on intelligence that a Yemen-based al-Qaida affiliate was planning terror attacks.

The Interpol alert comes in light of the escape of terror suspects in several prison breaks over the past month, The New York Times reported. Also on Saturday, several European governments ordered their diplomatic missions closed in Yemen and in other Middle Eastern countries.

The U.S. State Department on Saturday issued a global travel alert for American citizens. The alert warned of possible terror attacks by al-Qaida operatives and affiliated terror groups from Sunday through the end of August.

Senior Obama administration officials met on Saturday to discuss the terror threat. The meeting reportedly was led by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and included Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Secretary of State John Kerry; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; and CIA director John  Brennan.

“There is a significant threat stream, and we’re reacting to it,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who also reportedly attended the meeting, told ABC on Sunday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said the electronic chatter among terror suspects about a possible attack was “very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.”

“This is the most serious threat that I’ve seen in the last several years,” he said.

A notice sent to U.S. citizens in Israel over the weekend read: “The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. Embassies and Consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4. The Department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. It is possible we may have additional days of closings as well, depending on our analysis.”

Reports on Twitter said similar messages had gone out to Americans in Afghanistan, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan, and NBC also listed Bangladesh, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.