"Al-Qaeda as an organization, as far as the core is concerned, is pretty much irrelevant," says Scott Stewart, vice-president of tactical intelligence for Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm based in Austin, Tex.
"We wrote a piece on [lone wolf terrorists] the day before the Fort Hood shootings, talking about this trend, and there we have it," says Stewart
"Simple attacks, using readily available weapons.
says it's likely that al-Qaeda
is relying on this type of strategy to maintain its international profile.
points out that it is difficult to find individuals with the discipline and organizational skill to pull off solo attacks without inadvertently tipping off counterterrorism agents.
Even so, he's
far from confident that the War on Terror is over.
"What I'm concerned about is the ideology of jihadism, how it's influencing these regional franchises," says Stewart
cites so-called "franchises" such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which currently occupies a number of cities in Yemen, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is claiming parts of northern Mali and is thought to be enforcing sharia law there.