By Elise Labott
North Korea's threat to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States has puzzled American officials, who see the regime ramping up its threats and rhetoric.
It's leading to the belief that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is more unpredictable, more dangerous and harder to read than his late father, Kim Jong Il.
"The new leader is acting in ways a bit more extreme than his father, who was colder and more calculated," a senior administration official said. "Kim Jong Il was more aware of the off-ramps to end these escalations.
"I don't recall he ever went this far in terms of the pace and scope of the rhetoric. Threatening to launch nukes directly against the United States and South Korea confirms what a lot of people have been saying, which is we are dealing with someone new," the official added.
Comparing Kim Jong Il, who died last December, to a chess player, the official said the son is more like a boxer.
The growing strength of extremist groups across the Middle East and Africa has led the Obama Administration to begin a classified review of just who it can go after under its targeted killing program.
The current congressional authorization to use military force, allows the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against any persons or organizations involved in planning or carrying out the September 11th attacks–its been interpreted to include al Qaeda affiliates.
But emerging terrorist groups sympathetic to al Qaeda do not necessarily have a direct link to the core Al Qaeda network responsible for the September 11th attack, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
Reporting from Barbara Starr and Susan Candiotti
Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who has served as an al Qaeda spokesman, was captured and has been brought to the United States, two administration officials and a federal law enforcement official said Thursday.
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is being held in New York, and will appear in court Friday to face federal charges, the law enforcement official said.
A sealed indictment lays out charges against him, the administration officials said.
Abu Ghaith was captured within the past week in Jordan, according to a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York.
Congress was notified when Ghaith was taken into U.S. custody, the administration officials said.
The U.S. Treasury Department has described Abu Ghaith as "the official spokesman of al Qaeda since his appointment to that position after the attacks of September 11, 2001."
He appeared in videos as "the mouthpiece of bin Laden," the department said.
Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist al Qaeda network that staged the 9/11attacks on the United States, was killed in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan in 2011.