The White House said top administration officials gathered late Saturday over a terror threat that provoked the State Department to close more than 20 diplomatic posts and issue a worldwide travel alert.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice chaired a meeting with 12 administration officials including the secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security and the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA, according to a White House statement…

The State Department’s travel alert said the threat was focused particularly in the Middle East and North Africa and was “possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.” Yemen has become a central focus of the warnings.

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The terror threat prompting the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates Sunday is the most specific, credible threat information in years, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reports.

Intelligence officers have reporting from a reliable source that a major plot is under way and that the team to carry it out has been selected and is in place, Miller reports…

What authorities don’t have is the date, the timing or the target of the attack, which is why they have taken such an approach to warning potential targets, Miller reports.

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On the day that almost two dozen U.S. embassies and consulates across North Africa and the Middle East are closed following the identification of a significant threat from an al-Qaeda affiliate, a senior U.S. official is providing new details about the communications intercepted from the terrorists, telling ABC News that al-Qaeda operatives could be heard talking about an upcoming attack. The official described the terrorists as saying the planned attack is “going to be big” and “strategically significant.”

“The part that is alarming is the confidence they showed while communicating and the air of certainty,” the official said, adding that the group – Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – appeared to have a media plan for after the attack…

“We do not know whether they mean an embassy, an airbase, an aircraft, trains,” the official said…

The official also said authorities were stunned that the group broke “operational security” – meaning they talked likely knowing it would be picked up by intercepts.

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The chatter among al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives had gone on for weeks but increased in the last few days, the officials said…

The warnings also come as news has surfaced that al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has appointed the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wahishi, as his overall general manager of the terror network, Seth Jones of the Rand Corporation said…

Officials have told CNN that some analysts believe the threat is solely in Yemen, while others are convinced plots are under way in several countries

According to the Yemeni official, recent U.S. drone attacks may generate reprisals.

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Interpol has issued a global security alert, asking its member nations to help determine whether a rash of brazen prison escapes recently are linked.

Over the past month, prison breaks have taken place in nine Interpol member nations, the global police organization said in an alert this weekend.

“With suspected Al Qaeda involvement in several of the breakouts, which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals, the INTERPOL alert requests the Organization’s 190 member countries’ assistance in order to determine whether any of these recent events are coordinated or linked,” the group said in the statement Saturday…

Interpol noted that August has been a fervent month for attacks.

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McCormack asked, “what does ‘rebalancing our fight against al Qaeda’ mean? It’s a phrase Obama hasn’t used before.”

The administration hasn’t answered McCormack’s question. In light of al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq, our withdrawal from Afghanistan, our fecklessness with respect to Syria, Libya, and elsewhere–and now the travel alert warning about the “potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa” and Sunday’s closing of 22 embassies across the Muslim world–the answer is becoming depressingly clear: Rebalance is a euphemism for retreat.

Al Qaeda’s not on the run. We are.

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“When you look at this map of U.S. embassies that are closed, twenty-two of them, most of them across the Muslim world, when you hear this global warning to all Americans to take care, what do you think that says?” Crowley asked. “Since the mission of terrorists is to terrorize, in some sense do you feel as if they’ve already won?

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Via the Corner.