TODAY   |  August 03, 2013

Worldwide travel alert over al Qaeda threat

A worldwide alert has been issued for all U.S. citizens traveling abroad due to an unspecified terrorist threat, which officials are calling the most serious they’ve seen in years. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>> overseas preparing to close. kristen welker has the latest. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. u.s. officials say the embassy closures are temporary and out of an abundance of caution lawmakers who were briefed on the situation say this is the most serious threat they have seen in years. it is highly unusual. tomorrow, 22 embassies in 17 countries will close their doors. u.s. officials are particularly concerned about targets in the middle east and north africa , from algeria to angelbangladesh.

>> we take precaution their me sures if necessary.

>> reporter: there is a worldwide terror alert warning of attacks by al qaeda and affiliates n. a statement the department warned of attacks possibly occurring or emanating from the arabian peninsula . officials tell nbc news they are focused on yemen after president obama met with the president of the country this week.

>> it is a serious threat. probably the most detailed threat, specific threat i have seen in the last five to ten year.

>> reporter: state department officials say there could be additional days of closing. they won't say much about the threat and it's not just the u.s. the british are closing their embassy in yemen for two days. analysts say the united states is mindful of what can go wrong, especially in the wake of the terrorist attack in benghazi which claimed the lives of four people including the u.s. ambassador .

>> there are probably concrete things they are hearing about the nature of a possible plot. they can't be sure where or when. they know it is the middle east and they know it is august. they know enough to take it seriously.

>> reporter: the travel alert expires at the end of the month. it is not clear how long the embassy closures will last. president obama continues to get updated on the situation. if you plan to travel overseas, officials say to log onto the state department website first. erica?