3 Lessons from London

As investigators unravel the plot, here's what the attacks reveal about how al-Qaeda operates today — and why the bombings may be a sign of things to come

The name--al-Qaeda, the base--hasn't made sense in years, at least not since al-Qaeda training camps were incinerated in the post-9/11 strikes on Afghanistan. But jihadism is an especially centrifugal force, flinging adherents across borders until what we still notionally call al-Qaeda exists everywhere and nowhere, more an impulse than an organization. Men and boys with small lives and big hopes for the afterlife visit jihadist websites, meet like-minded rejects at the local mosque, pay a visit to one of the overseas imams known for radical preaching and then--well, no one can say for sure. Some return home--to Lodi, Calif.; to Casablanca;...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!