Travel Warnings Stem From Unusually Specific Threat Affiliate of al-Qaeda reportedly in 'final stages' of planning attack on US interests By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Aug 3, 2013 6:45 AM CDT 63 comments Comments Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (Newser) – The State Department's unusually strong warnings this week about a possible terror threat—it announced that 21 US embassies would be closed tomorrow and followed that up with a global travel alert for Americans—came after authorities intercepted communications among what the New York Times calls "senior operatives" of al-Qaeda, a rarity. And this was apparently no idle chatter: CNN reports that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was in the "final stages of planning for an unspecified attack," with particular concern about the US embassy in Yemen between today and Tuesday. The timing dovetails with the end of Ramadan. “There is a significant threat stream and we’re reacting to it,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tells ABC News for its This Week program. He says it is “more specific” than usual, though the exact target is unspecified. “The intent is to attack Western, not just US interests." Rep. Peter King made a similar point to CNN: The information is "the most specific I've seen," he says, adding, "We are focused on the Middle East, but it's a potential series of attacks that really could be almost anyplace."