WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said the high-profile terror alert could cause al-Qaida to think twice about carrying out an attack.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said that based on the evidence he had seen, the current threat centered on the Middle East and North Africa was indeed dire, but could be foiled by the United States taking away the element of surprise.
"The one good thing I think about the State Department issuing these warnings is that when you let them know that you know, you put them on their heels and they often times back down," McCaul said on CBS' "Face the Nation.
The Obama administration took the high-profile step of placing military forces on alert and ordering the closure of 22 embassies and consulates in the region. The closure was specifically for Sunday's culmination of Ramadan, but could last longer if necessary.
In a related development, al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video call to action this weekend in which he blasted the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and laid much of the blame on the United States.
McCaul said the reputed statement and recent prison breaks in the Middle East that freed scores of accused terrorists added up to a dicey situation.
"This week, 15 years ago, they bombed-- the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania," McCaul said. "Then Zawahiri has basically set out a decree to the Jihadists on his website saying, 'Now's the time to attack U.S. interests.' This warning from Zawahiri-- really comes right on the heels of the State Department warning. And so, that's of grave concern to us."