The U.S. government’s annual report on international terrorism states that al Qaeda is shifting from being an “expeditionary” terrorist organization to one that conducts “guerrilla” terrorist attacks.
The early al Qaeda attacks were carried out after training a group in one country and then sending it abroad to attack pre-planned objectives, like the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Tougher border controls and increased security have made it more difficult to conduct these attacks, according to the latest “Patterns of Global Terrorism.”
“Clandestine insertion across borders is harder, reconnaissance is more risky, and international movement of funds and equipment is more likely to be detected,” the report said.
“Thus we have seen a trend toward guerrilla terrorism, where the organization seeks to grow the team close to its target, using target country nationals.”
These groups use intermediaries, Web-based propaganda and subversion of immigrant expatriate populations to develop local cells that carry out attacks. They then exploit the attacks for propaganda purposes.
“This circumvents the need to insert a team across borders or clandestinely transfer funds and material,” the report said, noting the 2004 Madrid bombing, the July 2005 London attacks and the thwarted August 2006 attempt to attack passenger jets flying from British airports were examples of the new trend.
Both expeditionary and guer- rilla terrorism by al Qaeda are used with home-grown terrorism by local cells acting spontaneously.