The top American intelligence official said on Tuesday that Al Qaeda is improving its ability to attack within the United States by recruiting and training new operatives. At the same time, he said, the group's affiliate in Iraq is beginning to send militants to other countries.
That caution came from Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, as he presented to the Senate intelligence committee an annual report on threats to the United States. The report was released as his testimony began.
"Al-Qa'ida is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.: the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the homeland," he wrote in the 47-page document.
McConnell's assessment, representing the consensus view of the country's intelligence agencies, was decidedly mixed.
The report noted that there were no major terrorist attacks in much of the world over the past year, and suggested that Al Qaeda's global image was "beginning to lose some of its luster."