New report shows Al Qaeda gaining strength

by Steve Handelsman

NBC News

A new government report on terrorist threats to the U-S homeland  warns that Osama Bin Laden is still running Al Qaeda from Pakistan and with the help of his powerful affiliate in Iraq, is planning terrorist attacks on America that could rival 9/11.

The bad news is that Osama Bin Laden has rebuilt Al Qaeda in Pakistan and could strike again, like he did six years ago, or worse...with chemical, biological or radioactive weapons.

"The intent clearly stated is mass casualties!  Mass casualties, larger than 9/11," testified National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell.

There's little fear of homegrown terrorists here in the U-S like the ones in Britain,
but a growing fear that Bin Laden will turn to the men getting experience fighting Americans in Iraq.

"Of most concern is that Al Qaeda will try to exploit the conflict in Iraq and leverage the contacts and capabilities of Al Qaeda in Iraq...its most visible and capable affiliate," said White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend.

The good news is that Al Qaeda has suffered a setback in Iraq.

Many locals are rejecting its message...but the White House warns a U-S pullout would revive Al Qaeda.
"It gives it bragging rights - at that juncture - to recruit - to raise money - and to try to extend operations," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

President Bush vowed again to beat Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"We are steadfast in our determination not only to protect the American people but to protect these young democracies," Bush said.

As the Senate debated an Iraq pullout, some Republicans agreed.

"Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory," said Arizona Senator and Presidential hopeful John McCain.

Still, at least 10 Republicans want a new Iraq plan.

"The time has come to address reality," said Maine's Olympia Snowe.