Osama bin Laden is dead. So is much of the influence his organization built with the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. Al-Qaeda, however, lives on through a collection of like-minded Islamist militias holding territory and threatening to redraw the map in the Middle East and North Africa. Inspired by bin Laden's jihad and hardened by battle, they have capitalized on the security and political vacuum left by the toppling of autocrats in the 2011 Arab Spring.
The new face of Qaeda came into focus with the march of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. The group emerged from the sectarian battles spawned by the American invasion of 2003, then honed its combat skills in the three-year Syrian civil war. It aims to create a new state that spans both countries.