Following the death of Osama bin Laden, the FBI's newest concern about al-Qaida's core organization is weapons of mass destruction, according to a former assistant director for counterterrorism who spoke in Newark, N.J., on Wednesday.
Speaking to an FBI Citizen's Academy ceremony in the city where he also once served as special agent in charge, Joseph Billy Jr said he was briefed earlier that day on the FBI's concerns going forward at a special meeting in agency offices in New York City.
"The concern is over WMD from a host of unstable countries," Billy said. He explained that the FBI's focus now turns to what's left of the core terrorist network after Sunday's SEAL raid on bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan.
The FBI veteran, who for several years was in charge of the agency's hunt for bin Laden, admitted his former colleagues are hampered by what he called "a lack of insight" as to where the targeting may take place.
But he also warned they still believe al-Qaida has an ability to kill, as well as "leadership that can strike us in a spectacular way."
Billy said the New York City briefing also warned about homegrown terrorists and splinter groups.
"These are groups who have taken up the movement, the cause," but have no ties to the original al-Qaida, he said.
"From a terrorist perspective, soft targets will continue to be the choice," Billy said, referring to locations like Penn Station in New York.
But he had encouraging news as well, saying that the FBI believes the movement that has swept through countries such as Egypt and Tunisia is real.
"Al-Qaida was marginalized" by these revolutions, Billy said.
Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY