Chapter 1. Strategic Assessment
Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its affiliates and adherents worldwide continue to present a serious threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests. While the international community has severely degraded AQ’s core leadership, the terrorist threat has evolved. Leadership losses in Pakistan, coupled with weak governance and instability in the Middle East and Northwest Africa, have accelerated the decentralization of the movement and led to the affiliates in the AQ network becoming more operationally autonomous from core AQ and increasingly focused on local and regional objectives. The past several years have seen the emergence of a more aggressive set of AQ affiliates and like-minded groups, most notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Northwest Africa, and Somalia.