Al Qaeda's Next Generation Spurring New Wave of Attacks?

LONDON, July 25, 2005 — -- Intelligence analysts are increasingly concerned the latest wave of terror attacks in London and Egypt is being carried out by a new generation of al Qaeda-inspired extremists, sources tell ABC News.

While there is yet no direct evidence linking the bombings, police are worried about the frequency of the recent attacks.

"The level of concern now certainly has risen to the level of what of what existed in the summer preceding 2001," said Jack Cloonan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent and ABC News consultant.

Al Qaeda's leadership has consistently called for attacks against the United States and its allies. Britain and Egypt have received particularly attention from the terrorist group.

In April 2003, a month after the United States invaded Iraq, Osama bin Laden in a videotaped message called on extremists to "get up and raise your weapons against America and Britain."

Five months later, bin Laden warned: "We reserve to ourselves the right to respond ... all the countries participating in this war, especially Britain [and] Spain."

In February of this year, Ayman al-Zawahri -- al Qaeda's second in command -- spoke out against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, blaming "Mubarak and his gang" for pursuing a "policy of normalization with Israel."

Western intelligence officers are reexamining the release in June of a videotape by Zawahri, searching for any clues they may have missed pointing to the recent attacks, ABC News has learned.

Smaller Attacks, Major Impact

U.S. officials say al Qaeda is evolving into an organization that relies on largely autonomous, regional groups to launch smaller-scale attacks that have major political aftershocks.

"If you looked at this as bin Laden as the chief executive, he has franchised a lot of this stuff out," said Cloonan. "Now you have his acolytes around the world carrying out his mission statement."

The 2004 Madrid train bombing came on the eve of the Spanish national elections, while the July 7 London bombing coincided with the G-8 summit of Western leaders. Last week's bombing in Egypt came on a national holiday.

"What we are seeing here is a campaign of terror, a psychological campaign of terror, which is not necessarily designed just to inflict mass casualty atrocities," said terrorism expert M.J. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

Authorities in London and the United States are bracing for what could be coming.

ABC News' Pierre Thomas filed this report for "World News Tonight."

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