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Terror threats keep U.S. embassies closed through the week

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A major terror attack by al-Qaida may have been thwarted, but it hasn't diminished the risk facing Americans.

Yemeni security officials claimed they foiled an al-Qaida plot to kidnap or kill foreign workers in Yemen Wednesday, but if so, it would be unrelated to the terror threat that led to the closings of 19 U.S. embassies and removal of U.S. personnel overseas. 

Tensions are still high with reports of more U.S. drone strikes on terror targets in Yemen Wednesday. 

Just one day after President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he discussed the threat of terror attacks, United Nations experts say threats from al-Qaida as a global organization are declining. But that doesn't necessarily mean the most recent threat of terror activity linked to al-Qaida in Yemen is over. 

“The fact that they are so resilient and that they continue to use that as an operational base to work from, I think, is the subject of concern,” says James Carafano.

Carafano, an expert in foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation, also points to concern about recent jailbreaks - nine in the last month - where heavily-armed militants freed hundreds of maximum security inmates – 500 freed in Iraq, more than 1,000 in Libya, and nearly 250 in Pakistan – a textbook terrorist recruiting tactic.

“You have vetted people,” Carafano says. “You go in an internet chat room and try to recruit someone, you’re probably talking to an FBI agent. You go into a prison, you’ve got a guy that’s vetted so it’s a great resource of people.”

The U.S. military continues to fly reconnaissance drones over Yemen, where security remains tight. Great Britain also removed key personnel from Yemen, and the U.K. is strongly urging British citizens to leave. 

The 19 U.S. embassies that were closed across the Middle East and northern Africa this weekend will remain closed through Saturday.

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