US acknowledges reported al-Qaida plot on Tel Aviv embassy

Following Shin Bet announcement of thwarted attacks, State Department says "closely following situation".

US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON -- US State Department officials acknowledged on Wednesday reports of an al-Qaida plot targeting the American embassy in Tel Aviv, telling The Jerusalem Post that the US is "closely following the situation" and has been in touch with the Israeli government concerning the matter.

In a statement on Wednesday, Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence agency, announced it has apprehended two suspects in east Jerusalem involved in the plot to target the seaside embassy.
The two men with Jerusalem residency were recruited by al-Qaida in the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet claimed, through Facebook and Skype.
"The US embassy routinely employs a range of measures to safeguard US citizens and all of our employees and their dependents," the State Department official said. "We have a high degree of confidence in our own security staff and in the Israeli security forces."
The official implied that the plot had been a matter of discussion between US and Israeli for some time.
The plot allegedly involved the two men wearing detonation vests to the target. The convention center in Jerusalem was another target under consideration, Shin Bet said.

"The US embassy was not just the target, but obviously other targets were involved as well in the threat," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Wednesday.
Harf said that the US had no plans to evacuate the embassy.
"We obviously don't discuss all of our security measures," Harf added.