International police agency Interpol issued a global alert regarding recent prison breaks it believes are linked with al Qaeda. Nine Interpol countries have reported prison breaks in just the last month, including Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan.
The police agency called on its member states to help determine if the prison breaks could be linked or coordinated somehow. The warning came just one day after the United States issued a world-wide terrorism alert.
The terrorism alert is for the entire month of August, reports The Wall Street Journal, and US officials are focused specifically on Yemen-based al Qaeda groups.
Interpol posted a statement about the prison breaks on its website on Saturday, saying that “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 police agency also asked its member countries to follow and process quickly any information related to the recent prison escapes. The countries are asked to alert Interpol if any of the escaped terrorists are caught or if they have intelligence that could prevent a terrorist attack.
The New York Times notes that Interpol and American officials believe attacks were orchestrated by al Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate to free hundreds of inmates from two of the country’s prisons, including Abu Ghraib. The attackers used mortars, suicide bombers, and an assault force to free the inmates.
More than 1,000 prisoners escaped from a prison near Benghazi, Libya just a few days later. The country’s prime minister blamed local residents, but security officials in Benghazi disputed the allegations.
The Interpol prison break alert added to a climate of concern created by the United States’ terror alert, which has several of the country’s embassies closed in Muslim nations around the world. The embassies will likely open again next week. There is also a global travel alert in effect for American citizens.
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