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U.S. Embassy Warns of Possible Terror Attacks in Saudi Arabia

The U.S. Embassy closed its offices in Saudi Arabia (search) Saturday to review security procedures, while embassy officials warned terrorists are close to launching an attack in the desert kingdom.

The embassy in the capital of Riyadh (search) and the U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah (search) and Dhahran (search) were to be closed, according to a warden message issued by the embassy on Friday.

"The embassy continues to receive credible information that terrorists in Saudi Arabia have moved from the planning to operational phase of planned attacks in the kingdom," stated the message. "The embassy strongly urges all American citizens in the kingdom to be especially vigilant when in any area that is perceived to be American or Western."

They will then advise the American community when the review is completed and when normal operations will resume.

State Department (search) spokesman Richard Boucher said fears of an imminent attack in Saudi Arabia meant it was "prudent ... to warn Americans and to close our operations for a review."

"The situation has been dangerous, perilous, for Americans in Saudi Arabia," Boucher told reporters in Washington Friday, particularly since the May 12 attacks against Western residential compounds in Riyadh that killed 35 people, including the nine attackers.

The Saudi government launched a nationwide security crackdown following that attack and about 600 suspects believed linked to Al Qaeda (search) have been arrested since.

In October, the U.S. embassy urged Americans in Saudi Arabia to be vigilant during the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan (search), which ends later this month.

On Monday, Saudi police uncovered a cell believed linked to the Al Qaeda network in the holy city of Mecca (search). Police believe the cell had planned to carry out attacks during Ramadan.

The alert came a day after two suspected militants, believed to be members of the Mecca cell, blew themselves up in the holy city to avoid arrest. A third suspect was killed in a shootout with security forces in Riyadh.

Journalists Threatened in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a warning to journalists in Afghanistan on Friday.

"The United States Embassy in Kabul has received credible information that Taliban forces are actively searching for American journalists to take hostage for use as leverage for the release of Taliban currently under United States control," the embassy statement said. "American journalists in Afghanistan are urged to take immediate steps to increase their security posture in light of these threats."

Boucher added on Friday: "When we have this kind of special circumstance where it looks like the Taliban are actually searching for journalists, journalists need to keep that in mind."

Fighters with links to the former Taliban (search) regime have stepped up attacks in recent months, mostly in southern and eastern Afghanistan. On Oct. 30, Taliban members abducted a Turkish road engineer, demanding the release of Taliban prisoners. Negotiations were continuing.

The U.S. military holds Taliban captives at Bagram Air Base, the coalition's headquarters north of Kabul, as well as at a detention facility on Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba.

Americans in Malaysia Beware

The State Department on Friday also issued a warning to American citizens and interests in Malaysia, particularly along the east coast of Sabah (search), due to the presence of terrorist organizations in Southeast Asia.

"The Oct. 5 kidnapping of six Indonesian and Filipino workers from a resort along the coast of eastern Sabah reinforce the U.S. concern for the safety of travelers to that region of Malaysia," the warning states.

The warning also noted that in 2000, armed gunmen associated with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (search) based in the southern Philippines took hostages from the islands of Sipadan and Pandanan in eastern Sabah and transported them to the Philippines.

Since then, the Malaysian government has boosted its police and military presence in the region, particularly near popular Western tourist destinations. But, the State Department said, help is not easily obtained in large, remote regions where open waters separate the mainland and offshore resorts.

Regional groups designated by the State Department as terrorist organizations include the Jemaah Islamiyah (search), an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups which has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia.

"Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated their capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate," the State warning said. "Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets."

Middle East, North African Warnings

State officials also issued a notice Thursday, reminding U.S. citizens of the continuing threat of anti-American violence, including terrorist actions that may involve commercial aircraft and maritime interests, specifically in the Middle East, including the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

The agency cautioned U.S. citizens traveling to those areas that "there remains a potential threat to U.S. citizens and interests in the region posed by those harboring anti-American sentiments, including the risk of attacks by terrorist groups" and that credible information has indicated terrorist groups may be planning attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East.

"The U.S. government remains deeply concerned about the security of U.S. citizens overseas," the notice stated. "U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness."

Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, hijackings or kidnappings. These may also involve commercial aircraft and maritime interests, the warning said.

"While conventional weapons such as explosive devices are a more immediate threat in many areas, use of non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents must be considered a possible threat," it stated. "Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets" like public transportation, residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts and beaches.

Fox News' Teri Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.