Al Qaeda is expanding its size and abilities through "corporate-style takeovers" of regional extremist groups—offering arms, training, and support in return for allegiance. Analysts say this expansion represents a huge threat to the West, as the terrorist organization gains thousands of willing foot soldiers. "They are creating franchises and buying franchises, offering expertise, networks, money," says a Brookings senior fellow.
Case in point: the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian group that aligned itself with Al Qaeda on September 11, 2006. The formerly cash-strapped group is now launching frequent suicide attacks. A bombing intended for the Algerian president killed 20 people this month. The group has shifted focus from simply overthrowing the Algerian government to attacking a range of Western targets. (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)