As U.S. consular services in Saudi Arabia remain closed to some 40,000 American citizens until further notice, the State Department announced that diplomatic facilities in Djibouti are closing to the public as well.
U.S. citizens were told in a security message today that the embassy will close Thursday “to review its security posture.”
The embassy said it will “reopen for regular business” on Sunday. “Emergency consular services for U.S. citizens will be available.”
Citizens were “encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
The State Department move comes after Sheikh Hassan Hussein, a pro-Shabaab Somali cleric, declared ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be a legitimate caliph and said some al-Qaeda had wrongly judged the caliphate. Boko Haram in Nigeria pledged allegiance to ISIS earlier this month, raising speculation about Somalia’s Al-Shabaab following suit.
Sheikh Hussein has been considered a spiritual leader of Al-Shabaab, issuing fatwas supporting their terrorist attacks.
The United Arab Emirates warned in October that more needed to be done to counter ISIS’ spread in North Africa.
“What really scares us now is what we see from Daesh, and are we going to see in the future any sort of collaboration between different terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Shabab?” Emirati foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at the opening of a counter-piracy conference.
“I think we should start to ask ourselves: how ready we are as countries, companies and international organizations in facing these big threats,” the sheikh added.
Somali media have reported that Al-Shabaab members have been squabbling over loyalty to ISIS or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A November travel warning for Djibouti said that the U.S. government “continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at Western (including U.S.) and Djiboutian interests.”
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in a restaurant frequented by Westerners last May.
“Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings (to include car bombings), kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Djiboutian ports. Attacks may target official government facilities, including Embassies and military installations, as well as soft targets such as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and other commercial entities. While Djiboutian officials continue the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist attacks, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region,” the travel warning said.
“…Citizens should stay abreast of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to undertaking travel. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Djibouti business contacts, and hotels. We also encourage U.S. citizens to evaluate carefully the security of places they visit in Djibouti, particularly public places such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs/bars, and restaurants.”