Terrorism is decentralizing and diversifying, according to a new report from Rand.
Author Seth Jones urges the U.S. to maintain a focus on North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
His research centered on the growth of Salafi-jihadist groups - those dedicated to violent jihad and a return to “pure” Islam.
“There was a 58-percent increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist groups from 2010 to 2013,” Jones writes. “Libya represents the most active sanctuary for Salafi-jihadist groups in North Africa, and Syria the most significant safe haven for groups in the Levant.”
Core Al-Qaeda and affiliates, Rand, June 2014
Organizations often have different objectives and different geographies.
One reason for their increase is the spread of militant networks. Operatives train or fight in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, then transfer those experiences to other countries.
In essence, personal relations supplant more formal organizational ties.
Although links among terrorist groups are many, they no longer operate as a hierarchy headed by core Al-Qaeda. The interactive Muckety map above shows the interconnections and some of the major terrorist acts committed by these groups.
The chart below, prepared by Rand, shows the growth in the number of organizations between 1988 and 2013.
Growth in Salafi-Jihadist Groups, Rand, June 2014