Report: Al-Qaida WMD attack on U.S. highly probable

| Wednesday, June 11, 2003

There is a “high probability” that al-Qaida will attempt an attack with a weapon of mass destruction in the next two years, the U.S. government said in a report Monday.

The report to a U.N. Security Council committee did not say where the Bush administration thinks such an attack might be launched.

“The al-Qaida network will remain for the foreseeable future the most immediate and serious terrorism threat facing the United States,” the report said. “Al-Qaida will continue to favor spectacular attacks but also may seek softer targets of opportunity, such as banks, shopping malls, supermarkets, and places of recreation and entertainment.”

The report said the terrorist organization “will continue its efforts to acquire and develop biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons.”

A radiological weapon is a so-called “dirty bomb,” which uses traditional explosives to disperse radioactivity. Such bombs could use lower-grade radioactive material, which can be more easily produced or obtained than the high-grade uranium and plutonium used for nuclear weapons.

The report said FBI investigations since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “have revealed an extensive and widespread militant Islamic presence in the United States.”

The U.S. report also noted, “There are hundreds of ongoing counterterrorism investigations in the United States directly associated with al-Qaida,” primarily on the East and West coasts and in the Southwest.

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