Spy leaders: US to face ongoing threats

Other News Materials 17 July 2007 16:08 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - The United States will face a "persistent and evolving" terrorist threat in the next three years, as al-Qaida bolsters its efforts to plant terror plotters in the country and other related activities, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate to be made public Tuesday.

Several of the nation's top intelligence officials - including National Intelligence Council Chairman Thomas Fingar and FBI Deputy Director John Pistole - were to brief reporters on the declassified key findings of the document, which was years in the making.

The Associated Press last week reported on a variety of the document's key judgments. Among them:

_Al-Qaida is likely still seeking chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and would use them if it developed sufficient capability.

_The group has been able to restore three of the four key elements it would need to launch an attack on U.S. soil: a safe haven in Pakistan's tribal areas, operational lieutenants and senior leaders. It could not immediately be learned what the missing fourth element is.

_The group will step up its efforts to position operatives inside the U.S.

_The U.S. will face "a persistent and evolving terrorist threat" over the next three years. The main danger comes from Islamic terrorist groups, especially al-Qaida, and is "driven by the undiminished intent to attack the homeland and a continued effort by terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities."

On a positive note, U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that increased worldwide efforts over the past five years "have constrained the ability of al-Qaida to attack the U.S. homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11."

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative written judgments of the 16 spy agencies. They reflect the consensus, long-term thinking of top intelligence analysts. Portions of the documents are occasionally declassified for public release.