Al-Qaida led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri remains the No. 1 terrorist threat to the United States, the country's top spymaster said Wednesday.
The terrorist organization has regenerated its central leadership over the past two years and regained the "core operational capabilities" needed to launch attacks within the United States, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a testimony.
"Al-Qaida is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the United States: the identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack on the homeland," he said.
"While increased security measures at home and abroad have caused al-Qaida to view the West, especially the US, as a harder target, we have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal areas of Pakistan since mid-2006," McConnell added.
But he didn't elaborate afterward on whether those recruits include US citizens.
Al-Qaida in Iraq suffered "major setbacks" last year, McConnell said, but added that the group is "still capable of mounting lethal attacks".
The group's "attack tempo", as measured by numbers of suicide attacks, dropped by more than half by the end of 2007 after reaching an all-time high earlier in the year, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2008)