Al-Qaida Plans Attack in U.S., Report Says
By KATHERINE SHRADER,, AP
Posted: 2007-07-17 15:18:20
Filed Under: Nation
WASHINGTON (July 17) — The terrorist network Al-Qaida will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate on threats to the United States.
The declassified key findings, to be released publicly on Tuesday, were obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
The report lays out a range of dangers — from al-Qaida to Lebanese Hezbollah to non-Muslim radical groups — that pose a “persistent and evolving threat” to the country over the next three years. As expected, however, the findings focus most of their attention on the gravest terror problem: Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network.
The report makes clear that al-Qaida in Iraq, which has not yet posed a direct threat to U.S. soil, could become a problem here.
“Of note,” the analysts said, “we assess that al-Qaida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland.”
The analysts also found that al-Qaida’s association with its Iraqi affiliate helps the group to energize the broader Sunni Muslim extremist community, raise resources and recruit and indoctrinate operatives — “including for homeland attacks.”
National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative written judgments of the 16 spy agencies across the breadth of the U.S. government. These agencies reflect the consensus long-term thinking of top intelligence analysts. Portions of the documents are occasionally declassified for public release.
The White House brushed off critics who allege the administration released the intelligence estimate at the same time the Senate is debating Iraq. White House press secretary Tony Snow pushed back at the critics Tuesday, saying they are “engaged in a little selective hearing themselves to shape the story in their own political ways.”
“We don’t keep it on the shelf and say `Let’s look for a convenient time,'” Snow said.
“We’re trying to remind people is that this is a real threat. This is not an attempt to divert. As a matter of fact … we would much rather — one of the things we’d like to do is call attention to the successes in the field” in Iraq, he said.
Democrats said the report was proof U.S. anti-terrorism efforts were being drained by the Iraq war.
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