The Al-Qaeda poses a bigger threat to world peace than terror outfits that have tied up with it, according to US intelligence estimates.
"... As we know from the statements of Al-Qaeda where they have created these partnerships with, for example, North African groups or South Asian groups, the "Key Judgments" do talk about Jemaa Islamiyah, Ansar al-Sunna and North African groups," a senior White House official dealing with Homeland Security Frances Townsend said.
"We view them as serious threats. We have seen their acts of terror around the world. We take them seriously. The "Key Judgments" section don't put them on the same level of a threat to you, as centrist, as they do Al-Qaeda" the top official maintained.
Townsend's remarks came while she was briefing reporters on the release on Tuesday of selective assessments of the National Intelligence Estimate by the Directorate of National Intelligence.
According to the assessment the war in Iraq is breeding deep resentment of the US that is likely to get worse before it gets better, intelligence analysts have concluded.
The report compiled from judgements of top intelligence analysts said although Al-Qaeda has suffered serious damage the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.
"If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups" the report said.
The unclassified document argues that the increased role of Iraqis in managing Al-Qaeda's operations in Iraq might lead the terror group's veteran foreign fighters to refocus their efforts outside that country.
It said that while Iran and Syria are the most active state sponsors of terror, many other countries will be unable to prevent their resources from being exploited by terrorists.
The report argues that the underlying factors that are fueling the spread of the extremist Muslim movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and these have to do with entrenched grievances and a slow pace of reform in home countries, rising anti-US sentiment and the Iraq war.
Democrats in Congress slammed the administration for the report including the charge that a highly selective and varnished version is being put out with a view to minimising the impact on November 7 elections.
The House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attempts to have a rare closed door session of the chamber to discuss the Report was rejected in a party line vote.