The United States issued a global travel alert today, as some of the biggest embassies all over the world temporarily closed on Sunday due to fears of potential terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. The travel alert will expire on August 31, 2013.

"The Department has been apprised of information that at an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations indicates that we should institute these precautionary steps," said Marie Harf, State Department spokeswoman, in a press conference.

"Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August," says a statement from the State Department.

The embassies in the following countries will be closed: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

The department also urges citizens to be cautious and aware of potential terrorist attacks, especially in public places. "Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services," it said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that House leadership also had been briefed on the situation, and that the travel alert and embassy closings provided "some understanding of the seriousness of the threat," according to CNN.

According to the FBI, in June of last year, Abu Yahya al-Libi, an important leader to the al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan. "Despite this and other leadership losses, al-Qa'ida remains committed to conducting attacks in the United States and against American interests abroad. The group has advanced a number of unsuccessful plots in the past several years, including against the United States and Europe," reports the National Counterterrorism Center.

The ability and the intensity of the attacks by the al-Qaeda group might escalate. The U.S. is thus taking precautionary measures to prevent any overseas or home threats to the safety of the American people.

Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday (except on U.S. federal holidays).