Over the weekend, Interpol warned that al Qaeda has been tied to the prison breaks on July 23 in Iraq, on July 26 in Libya and four days later in Pakistan.
End of Ramadan
Another factor prompting the embassy and consulate closures is the end of Ramadan. Depending on when a new crescent moon is seen, the Muslim holy month could end Wednesday or Thursday.
Ramadan's end is celebrated with the Eid al-Fitr festivities -- a three-day holiday in most Muslim countries.
The State Department, in announcing its closures, alluded to this, saying that "a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan."
Britain also announced its embassy in Yemen will remain closed through the end of Eid "due to continuing security concerns."
Townsend said there could be a strategic reason for shutting down the diplomatic offices.
"Once you take targets away, it buys you additional time to try and disrupt, to identify the cell, the operators in country and the region, and work with your partners in the region to try and ... get them in custody or disrupt the plot," she said. "So, some of this operationally is about buying time."
List of closures
A total of 19 U.S. embassies and consulates will be closed Monday through Saturday.
The following 15 were part of the original list:
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
U.S. Embassy Amman, Jordan
U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt
U.S. Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti
U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar
U.S. Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates
U.S. Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan
U.S. Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait
U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain
U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman
U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia