On 11 July 2005, the Christian Science Monitor reported:

A decade ago Al Qaeda was an entrepreneurial jihadist start-up firm. Today it may have evolved into something bigger, and less tightly controlled: a worldwide franchiser of terrorist attacks.

That may be one lesson of last week’s London bombings, say some terrorism experts. The British attacks were well-organized, low-tech, and prepared in great secrecy – all hallmarks of the now-decentralized Al Qaeda network. The Madrid subway attacks of 2004 were similar. So were the bombings carried out in Casablanca, Morocco, in 2003.

Having ceded some initiative to local operations, Al Qaeda may now find it more difficult to carry out such spectacular assaults as those of Sept. 11, 2001. But it possibly has evolved into a threat that extends across the globe, capable of striking almost anywhere, at almost any time.

"Al Qaeda is no longer a hierarchical organization, but rather an enabler for myriad terrorist groups and sympathizers to fight the jihadist holy war," says Ivo Daalder, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.  (more…)

 Source: Peter Grier, "The new Al Qaeda: local franchises," Christian Science Monitor (11 July 2005).