That assessment, according to the newspaper, is contained in the latest National Intelligence Estimate, a classified document that represents the consensus view of 16 U.S. government intelligence agencies.
"The New York Times" says it has confirmed the details of the confidential document with more than a dozen government officials and outside experts.
According to the newspaper, the document says the radical Islamic movement has now expanded from a core of Al-Qaeda operatives to include a new class of "self-generating" terrorist cells that have no direct ties to Osama bin Laden. The document cites the Iraq war as a reason for the spread of radical Islamic ideology.
The National Intelligence Estimate was prepared last April and is reportedly the first comprehensive appraisal of the global war on terrorism by U.S. spy agencies since the Iraq war began in March 2003.
Meanwhile, the latest reports from Iraq say at least five people were killed and some 20 injured in violence around the country today.
In the worst incident, a car bomb targeting a police patrol in eastern Baghdad killed two people and injured 13. Separately, the Health Ministry was hit by two mortar shells, seriously injuring three people. Attacks were reported in Tal Afar and Mosul as well.
Also today, the Iraqi authorities announced the capture of an insurgent leader near Baghdad. The man, whose name was not given, was identified as the head of the 1920 Revolution Brigades. Six of his associates were also captured in the operation in Kharnabat, a small town north of Baghdad.
The organization has claimed responsibility for attacks against U.S. forces.
("The New York Times," dpa, Reuters, AP)