• Adapted its financial support system, making it more difficult to detect.
Just last week, US officials warned Americans against traveling to Saudi Arabia, as they'd received "credible" information about plans for an attack on US interests there. And the arrest last week of another key Al Qaeda member, along with five lower-level operatives in Pakistan, reportedly broke up a plot to fly an airplane into the US Consulate in Karachi. The US has also nabbed four other high-level Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and is interrogating them in an undisclosed location.
But intelligence officials and experts on terror also point out that Al Qaeda never carried out spectacular attacks, like the 9/11 attacks or the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, in less than two-year intervals. Many of those attacks were in planning stages for more than four years. That has officials worried about what may now be in the planning stages.
The European intelligence report, in a segment addressing the March arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, states: "We have so far been unable to identify a successor to the operations and planning chief." But, it says, there is a good deal of concern that he could have a number of attacks planned, and that cells may be waiting for a signal to execute in any of a number of countries.
Furthermore, the report and other intelligence sources say, Al Qaeda has demonstrated it has a deep bench. The detentions of key operatives are setbacks, but 70,000 men have passed through Al Qaeda's training camps or fought with Arab freedom fighters in Afghanistan.
"Has Al Qaeda been hurt by its losses? Sure," says a senior US intelligence official. "But there's no indication that the losses aren't being replaced." With binLaden and his key associates hiding, Al Qaeda leaders must exploit conflicts in regions of the world where their contacts now reside.