Conventional military/regional analysts are starting to confirm the shift of al Qaeda towards a new generation of groups that have adopted many of the characteristics of global guerrillas. Here's some recent analysis by Dr. Sebastian Gorka of Germany's Marshall Center (note how he picks up on how Madrassas and radicalized Universities, a point mentioned here, are serving as a replacement for the shared experience of Bosnia and Afghanistan). He writes (for Jamestown Foundation):
In the last few months, an even newer sub-set of terrorists which could be identified with al-Qaeda, or which identifies itself with the broader aims of the original group, has emerged... Usually in their 20s, they are not linked by any particular campaign or by having trained together in one of the original al-Qaeda camps. Rather, these Islamists have shared experience at certain universities dotted across the Arab and Muslim world, universities that are home to the more virulent strains of the fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. Most often, these are establishments located in Pakistan. Very interestingly, in the case of some of the individuals that have been successfully identified or apprehended, these terrorists and potential terrorists are in fact the sons or sons-in-law of first generation members of the original al-Qaeda network. This is first and foremost an intellectual network, less reliant on the person-to-person contact so common to the original group. As a result, these cells have been found to be even more autonomous than was previously posited. They represent a broad outer circle, far more diverse than the original al-Qaeda network.
The new generations of fundamentalist terrorists do not share the same group history as the ones the U.S. and its allies have been fighting most frequently since 9/11. The non-aligned nature of many of the new cells established in Europe and Austral-Asia, for example, have a more international identity, greater independence and looser structures. Almost all the 9/11 hijackers were of one nationality, Saudi Arabian. Today, however, law enforcement agencies are, more often than not, apprehending or learning of cells with an extremely heterogeneous make-up.
Furthermore, a pattern seems to be emerging in regards to how these new iterations have managed to sustain themselves. Training facilities have moved from Central Asia to Asia: particularly Indonesia (the Sulawesi region especially), the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal. And more often, it appears that operational planners have begun isolating specific Islamic centers, mosques or madrassas for operational targeting and recruiting. They take control of an existing facility, typically with the assistance of a radical Imam with a suitably fundamentalist or Salafi message, then turn this facility into a recruiting center for those that will be later sent to one of the new training camps.