Interpol has issued a global security alert, asking its member nations to help determine whether a rash of brazen prison escapes recently are linked.
Over the past month, prison breaks have taken place in nine Interpol member nations, the global police organization said in an alert this weekend.
"With suspected Al Qaeda involvement in several of the breakouts, which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals, 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 group said in the statement Saturday.
Several high-profile escapes have garnered headlines in recent weeks:
-- On July 23, an al Qaeda group claimed responsibility for attacks on two Iraqi prisons that a lawmaker said freed more than 500 inmates, including some senior members of the group. Militants used suicide bombers with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns to attack prisons as inmates inside rioted and set fires.
-- On July 26, about 1,200 inmates spilled out of a prison in Benghazi, Libya.
-- And on July 30, Taliban gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked the largest jail in a northern Pakistani province, allowing about 200 inmates to escape, authorities said.
Interpol's alert comes as the United States closes 22 embassies and consulates abroad amid fears that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.
"Current information suggests that (al Qaeda) 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," a U.S. State Department travel alert read.
Interpol noted that August has been a fervent month for attacks.
"August is the anniversary of violent terrorist incidents in Mumbai, India, and Gluboky, Russia, as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia," the Interpol alert states. This month also marks the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in which more than 200 mostly African citizens were killed and 4,000 others injured, Interpol said.