Al-Qaeda continues to recruit Europeans for explosives training in Pakistan because Europeans can more easily enter the United States without a visa, the top US intelligence officer said.
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said European al-Qaida recruits in the border region of Pakistan are being trained to use commercially available substances to make explosives, and they may be able to carry out an attack on US territory.
McConnell also said he worried that Osama bin Laden's recent video and audio releases may be a signal to terrorist cells to carry out operations, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"That's unusual. He had been absent from airwaves over the last year. Our concern is that's a signal," McConnell said yesterday.
"It just causes us to be concerned and vigilant."
Europeans are being recruited specifically because they generally do not need visas to enter the United States, he said.
"Purposely recruiting an operative from Europe gives them an extra edge into getting an operative, or two or three, into the country with the ability to carry out an attack that might be reminiscent of 9/11," he said.
McConnell's threat warning echoed what he told Congress in July at a time when he and the Bush administration were pressing Congress for swift passage of a new law designed to ease warrantless eavesdropping on overseas calls and e-mails.