Indeed, there are doubts even within the national-security community that Al Qaeda can pull off a major operation like September 11. Still, the NIE's conclusions are a keen disappointment for the White House, which has trumpeted the disruption of Al Qaeda's central command as one of its major achievements.
A key reason for the resurgence: a peace agreement that Pakistan's beleaguered military leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, signed last year with tribal chiefs in his country's northwest provinces, where Qaeda leaders are thought to be hiding out. The peace deal has effectively closed off the provinces to the Pakistani military and U.S. Special Operations Forces.
It's probably not within their means to pull off another massive attack like 9-11, but certainly there are a lot of madmen out there who are each willing to do something stupid and dangerous in the name of Osama, with the London and Glasgow attempted attacks being a good example. Obviously these folks aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer, so their success is likely to be limited, but it doesn't take a lot of brains to blow yourself up or drive a car into a crowd or a building, so any terrorist is a real threat.
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