Washington, Feb. 26: American counter-terrorism officials seem to be now more concerned about the emergence of a lone wolf scenario - terrorists working to hit prescribed targets in an individual capacity, and not being bothered about receiving instructions or guidelines from a terror network or well known leader.
Many counter0terrorism officials are coming around to the view that the next wave of Al Qaeda recruits will come from within the United States and without the baggage of remembering 9/11.
According to Fox News, this new threat has been underscored this week by the case of Khalid Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Saudi national who came to the United States legally in 2008 to attend college in Texas.
Now, he has been accused of plotting to bomb a series of US targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.
Aldawsari wasn''t arrested in an FBI sting operation. Authorities allege that he was a "lone wolf," not working with others and apparently not connected to or receiving direction from an overseas terrorist network.
A recent intelligence assessment titled "Evolution of the Terrorist Threat to the United States," clearly says the threat is more diversified than ever before.
While there is no way to know how many lone wolf operators are inside the US, the threat has evolved since 9/11, Fox News quotes the assessment, as saying.
In simple terms, there are now three threat streams. The first originates in the tribal areas of Pakistan with the remaining Al Qaeda leadership, also known in intelligence circles as Al Qaeda core. US officials say they are diminished by the CIA drone campaign, but they still try to launch large-scale attacks.
The second comes from Al Qaeda affiliates, like Awlaki's group in Yemen. This is the group said to be behind the attempted Christmas Day underwear bomber, as well as the failed cargo jet bomb plot in October
And the third is the homegrown or self-radicalized operative.
The new generation, especially those inspired by Awlaki's brand of hate, often can be called digital jihadists -- Al Qaeda 2.0. They seek the radical message on the Web. They even find training. But most of all, they find like-minded individuals who reinforce their radical views through social networking sites. It gives them the courage to act. (ANI)