The PJ Tatler

Are 40,000 Americans Under Immediate Threat? Consulates Remain Closed in Saudi Arabia

For the second day, U.S. diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia are shuttered to all consular services due to “heightened security concerns.”

U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia received a security message from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh on Saturday, warning that consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahra would be shut down Sunday and Monday. Even the phone lines are unavailable.

“All U.S. citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country,” the message said.

On March 13, the day before the advisory that diplomatic facilities would be closed, the Embassy said it “has information stating that, as of early March, individuals associated with a terrorist organization could be targeting Western oil workers, possibly to include those U.S. citizens working for oil companies in the Eastern Province, for an attack(s) and/or kidnapping(s). There is no further information on the timing, target, location, or method of any planned attacks.”

On March 7, the Embassy warned that “individuals associated with a terrorist organization are targeting employees of Chevron in Saudi Arabia for a possible attack.”

The State Department’s travel warning, updated on Feb. 25, notes the danger of security threats from ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, international schools, and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom,” the warning added.

ISIS is believed to be seeking more Western hostages after it killed all of its known American hostages. The terrorist group is counting on sympathizers in countries across the region to help.

The Saudi Gazette reported in September that there are 40,000 Americans living and working in the kingdom.

Arab News said Saudi officials didn’t want to comment on the U.S. Embassy closure. Embassy spokesman Stewart Wight said “this warning does not apply to other Gulf countries” and the security situation would be reviewed before they decide whether to reopen diplomatic facilities.