WASHINGTON – Radical Islamists who have been stymied in efforts to hit traditional military and diplomatic targets are increasingly eyeing so-called "soft targets," and could be moving toward greater use of chemical and biological weapons, reads a new terrorism threat report released by the FBI on Wednesday
The 68-page report, called "Terrorism 2002-2005" and obtained by FOX News, offers some information already known to the public but also provides details of new trends.
For instance, the report says Al Qaeda is looking increasingly at targeting market places, subways and other civilian sites. Those attacks are increasingly being carried out by trainees who set out to pursue their own regional agendas.
The review — only the second report of its kind compiled by the FBI since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks — states that the threat of terrorism is expected to continue from both international and domestic sources. Internationally, two trends are taking place, the report reads.
"First is a preference for high-casualty, high-profile attacks directed against lower-risk, unofficial, so-called soft targets, as traditional military and diplomatic targets become increasingly hardened," states the report. "Second, the dissolution of much of Al Qaeda's structure by international military and law enforcement efforts has resulted in the dispersal of its multi-national trainees to pursue their own regional agendas."
The latest evidence of this trend was demonstrated Tuesday in the arrest of 20 people across Europe accused of recruiting suicide bombers. Italian police who led the investigation said the recruits were being trained to go into Afghanistan and Iraq; investigators found explosives, detonation devices, various poisons and manuals on guerrilla warfare.
On Wednesday, U.S. Lt. Gen. Carter F. Ham at the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that an increasing number of suicide bombings is occurring in Afghanistan. He said Taliban and foreign fighters who have recently entered the country are reverting to terrorist attacks because larger scale operations have not been successful.
In another portion of the report, the top U.S. law enforcement agency also finds that the biggest threat from weapons of mass destruction are smaller, easier to manipulate chemical, biological and radiological weapons, rather than nuclear technology
"The use of WMD against civilian targets represents the most serious potential international and domestic terrorism threat facing the United States today and provides a glimpse into emerging terrorist scenarios of the 21st century. A variety of intelligence reporting indicates that Al Qaeda has energetically sought to acquire and experiment with biological, chemical, and radiological weapons of mass destruction," the report reads.
"Ricin and the bacterial agent anthrax are emerging as the most prevalent agents involved in WMD investigations," the report continues.
The report cites a series of arrests in the United Kingdom and elsewhere involving Ricin
FOX News' Catherine Herridge and Ian McCaleb contributed to this report.