The State Department issued a worldwide travel alert on Friday and ordered the temporary closure of nearly 20 diplomatic outposts worldwide amid the threat of a potential al Qaeda terrorist attack.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said her staff and other congressional leaders have been briefed by the administration on the situation, but declined to offer details on the nature of the terror threat.

“Now that it’s in the public domain that the embassies will be closed and there’s a travel alert for Americans traveling abroad, there’s some understanding of the seriousness of the threat,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Friday said Vice President Biden informed him and his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), about the threat earlier this week.

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