CIA, FBI Chiefs Categorize Terror Threat Before Senate
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2005 The al Qaeda terrorist network is still a significant threat, said the director of Central Intelligence.
In prepared testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today, Porter J. Goss gave his best estimates of the threats facing America. He testified along with FBI Director Robert Mueller.
"We need to make tough decisions about which haystacks deserve to be scrutinized for the needles that can hurt us most," Goss said. "And we know in this information age that there are endless haystacks everywhere."
Defeating terrorism remains the intelligence community's core objective. "Widely dispersed terrorist networks will present one of the most serious challenges to U.S. national security interests at home and abroad in the coming year," Goss said. "In the past year, aggressive measures by our intelligence, law enforcement, defense and homeland security communities, along with our key international partners have dealt serious blows to al Qaeda and others."
Still, al Qaeda remains a threat both abroad and in the United States, he said. "It may be only a matter of time before al Qaeda or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons."
"Al Qaeda continues to adapt and move forward with its desire to attack the United States using any means at its disposal," FBI's Mueller said in his prepared testimony. "Their intent to attack us at home remains - and their resolve to destroy America has never faltered."
Mueller said al Qaeda has evolved. "While we still assess that a mass casualty attack using relatively low-tech methods will be their most likely approach, we are concerned that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction including chemical weapons, so-called 'dirty bombs' or some type of biological agent such as anthrax," he said.
Goss said that the al Qaeda is only one facet of the threat from a broader Sunni jihadist movement, and that the Iraq conflict, "while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists."
He said capturing Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders would not be enough to end the threat. Other members of this broader Sunni movement would pick up the cause and move on. Al Qaeda has particularly active cells or sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Southeast Asia and Iraq, and is becoming a greater threat in Central Asia.
Goss said he believes North Korea continues to pursue a uranium enrichment capability. On Feb. 10, North Korean officials claimed to have atomic weapons. "North Korea continues to develop, produce, deploy and sell ballistic missiles of increasing range and sophistication," Goss said.
The country has a large stockpile of SCUD and No Dong missiles. "North Korea could resume flight testing at any time, including of longer-range missiles, such as the Taepo Dong-2 system," Goss noted. "We assess the TD-2 is capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear-weapon-sized payload."
Further, the intelligence agency believes North Korea has an active chemical and biological warfare program and "probably has chemical and possibly biological weapons ready for use."
The CIA chief said he was also worried about Iran's nuclear program. Iran is negotiating with the European Union on its nuclear program, but several Iranian officials have said that the country would not give up its nuclear processing capabilities. "In parallel, Iran continues its pursuit of long-range ballistic missiles, such as an improved version of its 1,300 km range Shahab-3 medium- range ballistic missile," he said.
The director said that Iran is allegedly supporting some anti-coalition activities in Iraq and is "seeking to influence the future character of the Iraqi state."