A Department of Homeland Security internal report that assesses terrorist organizations, their anticipated targets and preferred weapons concludes that the threat to the United States presented by North Korea and several other countries long described as "state sponsors of terrorism" is declining.
"In the post-9/11 environment, countries do not appear to be facilitating or supporting terrorist groups intent on striking the U.S. homeland," says the draft report, which is intended to help the Homeland Security agency define its spending priorities through 2011.
Of the six nations identified by the State Department as terrorist sponsors, five of them - North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Cuba - are described by Homeland Security as a "diminishing concern." Iran, the final country on the list, alone is described as a potential threat over the next five years.
"Only Iran appears to have the possible future motivation to use terrorist groups, in addition to its own state agents, to plot against the U.S. homeland," the report says, adding that "ideologically driven nonstate actors" are the biggest threat.
Al Qaeda, not unexpectedly, tops a list of adversaries in the report, although the authors question if the group can still pull off attacks similar in scale to those of Sept. 11, 2001.
Other predicted possible sponsors of attacks include Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani-based group that has been linked to Muslims of America; Jamaat al Tabligh, an Islamic missionary organization that has a presence in the United States; and the American Dar Al Islam Movement. Representatives for the organizations could not be reached Wednesday for comment or did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages.