WASHINGTON (AP) al-Qaeda can be expected to attempt an attack on the United States in the next three to six months, senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress.
The terrorist organization is deploying operatives to the United States to carry out new attacks from inside the country, including "clean" recruits with a negligible trail of terrorist contacts, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. The chilling warning comes as Christmas airline attack suspect, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutullab, is cooperating with federal investigators, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.

al-Qaeda is also inspiring homegrown extremists to trigger violence on their own, Panetta said.
The annual assessment of the nation's terror threats provided no startling new terror trends, but amplified growing concerns since the Christmas airline attack in Detroit that militants are growing harder to detect and moving more quickly in their plots.
"The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that al-Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect," Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Intel chief: al-Qaeda likely to attempt attack - USATODAY.com