Osama Bin Laden's terror group Al-Qaeda and several other Al-Qaeda clones seemed to have changed their strategy. It's not too clear whether Osama is still alive and whether Al-Qaeda is still continuing with its agenda although terrorism in its various forms and with the Al-Qaeda stamp are still seen and mainly in Asia and Africa. Osama is most probably too ill and his days of glory and prime are all over. His claim to fame has been the September 11, 2001 attacks where Al Qaeda members killed more than 3000 Americans. But that's just it. Osama hasn't done anything remotely associated with greatness although he has been fired by a mission and megalomania all rolled into one and presumably saw himself as some sort of Anti-Christ, a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad or a savior of the Muslim world and the only person who could radicalize and present Islam in its modern form -- terrorism.
So, what really happened to Bin Laden? The terrorist attacks in the west have now been replaced with increased terrorist activity in the South Asian regions. The terrorist camps that Al Qaeda and other terror groups established in the Afghanistan-Pakistan borders in the 1990s may have dwindled in number but the ex trainees of these and related camps are determined to put their years of training and enhanced knowledge into practice. With the lack of Osama and Al-Qaeda support and the big bucks, these trainee terrorists now have no where to go and are thus increasingly becoming self employed and setting up their own groups. In the heydays of the Al-Qaeda, the trainees could have hoped for easy and immediate recruitment within the Global Al Qaeda network. Once they were recruited their life (read death) had a certain degree of certainty. They were assured of foreign travel where they simply had to bomb people or share information with other recruits. Probably along with a global economic recession and several other factors including Bin Laden's decreasing popularity in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and other nations, war on Terrorism, and a rapid decentralization, the Al Qaeda network has also felt the pinch. Moreover the terrorist sponsors are now no longer convinced of Bin Laden's abilities and the Al Qaeda network has been facing increased competition from its rival terror groups to actually secure funding for terrorism. The result is decentralization and factionalized terror groups with even affiliates pursuing their own objectives. Al Qaeda networks have been getting support of the Taliban and are concentrated in Afghanistan and Pakistan but Al Qaeda remnants are still found in Somalia and Yemen and in Egypt and Iraq (led by al-Zawahiri and al-Masri).
The trainee recruits or 'students of terror' have been setting up their own network trying to ape Al-Qaeda although now there are too many such groups so funding is no longer concentrated. This has resulted in a drastic cut of foreign travel for the terrorists and their agenda has changed to bombing in local regions. This means terrorist attacks have now increased drastically in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2009 alone, there were 20 terror attacks in Pakistan and there are many reports of terrorism in Afghanistan as well. In recent years terror attacks have also been very significant in India and in Egypt. India and Egypt are soft targets as costs of living in these regions are not too high and terrorists can easily live for months to plan their agenda inside the slums of Bombay or the souks of Cairo. In contrast sending recruits for foreign missions could be very expensive. Al Qaeda's initial budget was over $30-$35 million per year, according to US sources. Initially Osama had recruits in Brooklyn (Ali Mohamed) and London (Omar Bakri, not a direct recruit but an associate). The strategy until now has been to recruit young students already residing in the US, UK or other European nations, inviting and training them in Pakistan camps and sending them back to their homeland to bomb their own people. This strategy has worked for the London bombings as the backpack bombers were trained in Pakistan although for the September 11 bombings Al Qaeda had more money from Saudi billionaires and a stronger network, the mission was unprecedented and Osama presumably received huge support and sponsorship for the alleged unique project, so could send his senior fellows for completion of the mission.
US, UK or Europe are now tough targets because the costs of living in these countries are high and recruits can't live for months to plan their attacks; funds and sponsorships are dwindling with Osama's lost glory; there are increased security arrangements in these countries making it tough for terrorists to sail through, young Muslims are more aware and knowledgeable about Islam and no longer buying into the 'bomb your own people' agenda; the brainwashing is getting tougher in the West with governments systematically cracking down on religious hate preachers and finally now there are too many small terror groups with trainees keen to develop their own network during these uncertain times leading to decreased international presence and more local presence. With the decreased power of Al-Qaeda, other groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba are taking over. So now the terrorists have increased activity near the terror camps and in countries that have been knowingly or unknowingly breeding terrorists such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt. Now it's a classic case of biting the hand that feeds and the ancient parable which says that if you breed a snake in your backyard you will finally die with its own venom.
This may even be analyzed psychoanalytically that when our ambitions are frustrated externally we turn all the aggression inwards and suffer from depression or even practice self harm. This is happening with the terrorists, as with too many groups and lack of funds or centralized network, the aggression is manifesting in short term terror projects and sporadic bombing of local people. It's like these groups are getting sponsorships for each separate bomb attack and there is no long term agenda or a definite reason as to why they are doing this. The bigger Saudi sponsors have now backed off from giving any substantial support and the terrorists have to do with largely local funds. Bin Laden started this whole agenda because he had this rather deluded mission of being a savior of Muslims and was motivated by the possibility of global Jihad. Now there is no mission, no agenda, no direction but simply an urge to put training into practice, and suicide bombers are regularly blowing themselves up without any formal reason. If you ask terrorists why they are doing what they are doing, they will be more confused than ever about their real mission or objective.
Terrorism like every other Ism or ideology started with a centralized network and like any other movement reached its best days. Then the centralized network has now predictably dissociated and larger projects have given way to smaller goals of bombing people in local regions than in foreign cities and finally the last leg of terrorism which is yet to come would mean increased feuds among smaller terror groups and subsequent fall of the last important terror network.