Nightly News   |  August 04, 2013

US embassies, consulates on high alert over threat

President Barack Obama is receiving regular briefings on a terror threat that has closed U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> time ago, the state department announced it will extend the closings of some u.s. embassies in the face of a serious and credible, but so far unspecified, terror threat against american tro interests overseas. some two dozen embassies and consulates were closed today as a precaution as we learn more about the level and gravity the intelligence officials are acting upon. the consensus seems to be the threat is very real, but it's the targets that appear to be anyone's guess, which is why a worldwide warning remains in effect for americans traveling abroad. once again, tonight we're tracking all angles of this story, christian welker starts us off at the white house . good evening, kristen.

>> reporter: good evening. tonight the state department announced two dozen of the diplomatic posts closed today will remain closed through next weekend and four additional closures through the week. the reason given? an abundance of caution because of the muslim holy month of ramadan. back from camp david , president obama is getting regular briefings by his national security team on the threat that has shuddered posts in north africa and the middle east .

>> there's been a lot of chatter, chatter means conversations among terrorists about the planning that's going on, very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.

>> reporter: according to two top u.s. officials, the terror plot could include one large attack or simultaneous attacks around the world. but the intelligence still isn't crystal-clear. embassies and consulates from cairo to kabul are bracing themselves. although the streets of kabul were calm today, the embassy was still closed and will remain on high alert. of the compound has been a target in the past by insurgents, particularly by the haqqani network, an al qaeda affiliated group. national security officials told nbc news today the threat is coming directly from al qaeda in the arabian peninsula , based in yemen, a terror group getting stronger in recent years.

>> it's more dangerous because now we have what i call 2.0 or 3.0 which is widely disbursed, a anewer group.

>> reporter: meanwhile, tighter screen for overseas flights.

>> it always makes you nervous, but you have to carry on. just keep on going.

>> i'm really worried because my wife is going to saudi arabia .

>> reporter: and this morning fresh debate about the nsa's surveillance program, which intelligence officials say tipped them off about this latest threat.

>> it is scary. al qaeda is on the rise in this part of the world, and the nsa program has proven its worth yet again.

>> you have to be very careful about how much you represent that any particular program has contributed to our security.

>> reporter: and tonight nbc is reporting that officials in pakistan has tightened security in islamabad due to a potential terror threat interethere, but at this hour there's no link between the