While we will be entering a world where the al Qaeda organization will come to matter less, today it still remains as the central point of reference. A scan of the current jihadi landscape reveals that there are roughly six degrees of al Qaeda affiliation, each of which poses its own threat and requires a different response.
1. Al Qaeda's original leadership. The first group is made up of al Qaeda's original leadership -- and it is shriveling up like the roster of the local VFW. This crew still has a few big names: still-at-large figures like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Yahya al-Libi. But the original core of al Qaeda is shrinking fast. No one knows the exact composition of this highest-level group, nor its exact whereabouts. But the best intelligence suggests the members live somewhere in the vicinity of Pakistan.