The emerging offshoots have altered the composition of the terrorist network, scrambling its structure and complicating U.S. assessments of the threat that al-Qaeda represents…

“One of the most concerning things we’re seeing is a cross-fertilization and cross-pollinization of affiliates,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said. The newer groups have more diverse memberships, abundant access to weapons and a willingness to collaborate that “serves as a multiplier effect,” the official said…

U.S. officials said Obama’s options are more constrained in North Africa and the Middle East, regions where the United States has fewer intelligence resources and has seen staunch counterterrorism allies, such as former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, driven from power.