Islamist terror has evolved toward lone actors – and it’s brutally effective

The two attacks that shook the US and France on Sunday and Monday suggest a very new form of terrorism, posing a dramatic new threat.

But the horrific actions of Omar Mateen in Orlando, Florida, and Larossi Aballa outside Paris are the result of a 20-year evolution of Islamic militancy towards a decentralised, anarchic but tragically effective type of violence.

A year after the bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998, Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of al-Qaida, explained what he saw as his primary task.

“Our job is to instigate,” he said.