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Tighter security at some U.S. missions over al Qaeda
Question of the Day
In the Jordanian capital of Amman, a Jordanian security officer said bomb squads searched the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy while additional security vehicles were deployed in the area, including troop carriers with special forces trained in counterterrorism. Security also was tightened around the homes of U.S. diplomats in Amman, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The State Department, meanwhile, urged U.S. travelers to take extra precautions. Expats appeared to take the warnings in stride.
Rebecca Proctor, a magazine editor in Dubai, said she had heard of the threats, but wasn’t going to change her routine. She said she spent the day in meetings around the city, despite warnings from a friend not to visit tourist areas or speak English in public.
“I’m not going to stay inside and huddled up,” said Proctor, who is from New London, Connecticut.
In Amman, San Francisco native Wendy LeBlanc, an education consultant, also said she wasn’t changing her routine.
“Right now, the biggest threat here is a stray bullet from celebratory gunfire,” said LeBlanc, referring to the custom in parts of the Arab world to shoot in the air to mark important occasions.
The decision to close the U.S. diplomatic missions on Sunday — a work day in most of the region — came almost a year after an attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
Some argued that heightened security measures could give al Qaeda an inadvertent image boost.
“The closure of some U.S. embassies sends a wrong message to the world that al Qaeda is still strong,” said Qais Mohammed, an engineer from Baghdad. “I think that adopting balanced and fair policies toward the Arab and Islamic world is the best way to safeguard U.S. embassies and interests in the region.”
Laub reported from the West Bank. Associated Press writers Jamal Halaby and Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad, Michael Casey in Dubai, Aya Batrawy in Cairo and Max J. Rosenthal in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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