From the New York Times, with thanks to Nicolei:
The landscape of the terrorist threat has shifted, many intelligence officials around the world say, with more than a dozen regional militant Islamic groups showing signs of growing strength and broader ambitions, even as the operational power of Al Qaeda appears diminished.
Some of the militant groups, with roots from Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Caucasus to North Africa and Europe, are believed to be loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda, the officials say. But other groups follow their own agenda, merely drawing inspiration from Osama bin Laden’s periodic taped messages calling for attacks against the United States and its allies, the officials say.
The smaller groups have shown resilience in resisting the efforts against terrorism led by the United States, officials said, by establishing terrorist training camps in Kashmir, the Philippines and West Africa, filling the void left by the destruction of Al Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan. But what is also worrisome to counterterrorism officials is evidence that like Al Qaeda, some of them are setting their sights beyond the regional causes that inspired them.
The Islamic militant organization Ansar al-Islam, for example, has largely fled its base in northern Iraq, and elements of the group have moved to several European countries, where they are believed to be actively recruiting suicide bombers for attacks in Iraq and Europe, officials said.
The mutation of the cells was illustrated in October when the authorities in Australia arrested a Caribbean-born French citizen who they believe was sent by a little-known Pakistani group to scout possible targets for attacks. The group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was previously thought to be focused only on the struggle of Muslims in Kashmir.
The activity of such organizations is one reason intelligence officials believe that the threat of terrorism against the United States and its allies remains high. But the mobility and murky associations of the groups, most of which were operating before the Sept. 11 attacks, makes it difficult for agents to monitor their communications or follow their money.