The declassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate on al-Qaeda are hot off the presses. We've added them to our Documents Collection here
. Some highlights:
* The NIE throws President Bush a bone by saying "increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts... have greatly constrained the ability of al-Qa'ida to attack the US Homeland again." But al-Qaeda has "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability." For the first time, U.S. intelligence formally assesses that al-Qaeda possesses "safehaven in the Pakistani Federal Administered Tribal Areas."
* In the U.S. there are "only a handful of individuals with ties to al-Qa'ida senior leadership," though al-Qaeda will try to infiltrate more of them.
* The rise of jihadist websites and the "growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States." Extremism among U.S. Muslims is "not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe," but the NIE points to "a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States" as a serious issue.
* al-Qaeda will try to "leverage the contacts and capabilities" of al-Qaeda in Iraq to "enhance its capabilities" for striking the Homeland. al-Qaeda in Iraq also helps al-Qaeda "energize the broader Sunni extremist community." If that seems like weaselly wording, that's what it takes to suggest that If We Don't Fight Them There, We'll Fight Them Here.
* The broader trend in terrorism is toward "small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack -- all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp or leader."