August 2nd, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Growing chatter, rising concern and post-Benghazi caution behind threat warning and embassy closures

By Barbara Starr, Jill Dougherty and Dana Bash, with reporting from Elise Labott, Evan Perez and Gloria Borger

U.S. intelligence has been tracking a growing threat against American and Western targets from al Qaeda’s affiliate organization in Yemen for the last several weeks.

But in recent days, there has been additional intelligence about a potential attack in Yemen, as well as threats against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa, leading to the Obama administration’s decision to shut down U.S. embassies and warn publicly of the threat, U.S. officials tell CNN.

Based on the intelligence, officials say, there is particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday. Sunday, one of the holiest days in Islam, marks the end of Ramadan, and officials say they are concerned about attacks on that day.

The threat against the U.S. Embassy in Yemen was a primary concern, but it was ambiguous and could indicate threats against other U.S. and other Western targets in the Mideast and North Africa, another U.S. official told CNN.

The officials say the threat is linked to al Qaeda, rather than emanating directly from al Qaeda’s traditional stronghold in Pakistan.