U.S. report: Al Qaeda attack a 'high probability'
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) --A "high probability" exists that al Qaeda will attempt an attack using a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapon within the next two years, according to a U.S. report presented to a U.N. committee.
The report -- submitted in April -- said al Qaeda "will remain for the foreseeable future the most immediate and serious terrorism threat facing the United States."
A spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said the report's final release was delayed because it had to be translated into the agency's six official languages.
The report didn't specify where a possible strike could occur but said the terrorist group 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 that al Qaeda gets "varying degrees of support" from many groups committed to international jihad.
"U.S. government investigations have revealed a widespread militant Islamic presence in the United States," the report said. "We strongly suspect that several hundred of these extremists are linked to al Qaeda."
It added that U.S. investigations have not found any evidence these groups or individuals supporting al Qaeda are "actively engaged in planning or carrying out a terrorist attack."
But it warned that "the support structure is sufficiently well-developed that one or more groups or individuals could be used by al Qaeda to carry out operations in the United States or could decide to act independently."
All U.N. member nations have been asked to submit such reports to the U.N. committee -- established to monitor sanctions on al Qaeda and leader Osama bin Laden, Afghanistan's former Taliban regime and the two groups' associates. The sanctions seek to freeze assets of the groups and their followers.