WASHINGTON - The United States faces a range of threats from North Korean and Iranian missiles to a Sept. 11-scale attack by Islamist militants, inspired by Osama bin Laden and hardened by their experience in Iraq, top U.S. intelligence officials warned on Wednesday.
In his first public appearance as U.S. spymaster, CIA Director Porter Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence there was an emerging terrorist threat from experienced fighters now battling U.S.-led forces in Iraq later joining international militants.
"Those jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks," Goss said.
"The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists," he said.
Appearing on Capitol Hill to give lawmakers the CIA's annual threat assessment, Goss said U.S. authorities and their allies had dealt "serious blows" to the al Qaeda network blamed for the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.