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Threat to U.S. embassies appears al Qaeda-linked: lawmaker

Security personnel for the U.S. embassy stand in front of the embassy in Tel Aviv August 2, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias
Security personnel for the U.S. embassy stand in front of the embassy in Tel Aviv August 2, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said al Qaeda appears to be behind a threat that has prompted several U.S. embassies to close on Sunday.

"It's my understanding that it is al Qaeda linked ... and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia," Representative Ed Royce said Friday on CNN's "New Day" program.

Royce, a Republican, said he and several other lawmakers met two days ago with Vice President Joe Biden on the threat, "and as you know we're going to take whatever steps necessary to protect our personnel overseas. When we do have an indication of a threat, we take that seriously."

The State Department on Thursday said U.S. embassies that would normally be open this Sunday - including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo - will be closed that day because of unspecified security concerns.

CBS News reported the embassy closings were tied to U.S. intelligence about an al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in Muslim countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

(Reporting by Vicki Allen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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