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Ultimately, the debate about Al Qaeda’s current status centers on the important question of whether it is growing or declining in strength. In the wake of the Afghanistan and Iraq military campaigns, when the predicted terrorist attacks on the United States and its interests did not materialize, what is the current level of threat to the United States? Most believe that the denial of safe havens and arrests of senior leaders have seriously crippled the organization when judged by its earlier form. However, it may be evolving into something new. For terrorist groups, periods of evolution can be particularly dangerous. Organizations in transition can be especially vulnerable to disruption and destruction, but they can also be less predictable and prone to lash out in order to cause additional damage, rally flagging supporters, and/or prove their continuing viability. With respect to Al Qaeda, evidence of new sophisticated operations, a possible succession plan in action, central coordination of attacks, and growing international ties, all increasingly converging on a common international agenda hostile to the United States and its allies, may give U.S. officials new reason for concern. In the short term at least, even successes in counterterrorist operations against a more decentralized organization can lead to greater difficulty in collecting reliable intelligence, as the paths of communication are increasingly unfamiliar, the personalities are changing, and the locations of operatives are more diffuse. While the long term trajectory is very difficult to assess, for the time being it seems that Al Qaeda (or its successors) has emerged from a period of inactivity and remains a very serious threat, requiring concentrated attention and vigorous countermeasures on the part of its prospective targets.