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Журнальный клуб Интелрос » Strategic Perspectives » №13, 2013

Evolution of the Transnational Terrorist Threat

Today, terrorism has become more dispersed, decentralized, and multifaceted. In a word, it has become complex. One can adopt a “methods and motives” approach or attempt to make a distinction between national and international terrorism and still not be able to define a single framework to capture all aspects of the challenge. As a direct consequence of al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States, NATO’s involvement with countering terrorism has focused on its international dimension “over and above” national efforts and beyond national borders. Well before the demise of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, experts concurred that there was no longer a wide global network run directly by al Qaeda. Thanks also to the successes in disrupting its leadership and network, al Qaeda–like operations are increasingly dependent on local “franchises,” such as in Yemen, Somalia, the Middle East, and North Africa. While potentially diminishing the scope and reach of al Qaeda’s activity, this evolution cannot be considered a strategic victory. A scattered al Qaeda network becomes more difficult to pin down. Its leadership decreases in influence but spreads in numbers. Front lines become more blurred and terrorist tactics diversify and blend. Terrorism becomes a principal tactic incorporated by states and nonstate actors within a “new” category of “hybrid” threats.

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