Today, the relationships between terrorist groups are becoming more overt and strategic in nature. On Feb. 12, LeT, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan held a rally in Karachi to support their Difa-e-Pakistan Council and its anti-American, anti-Western political agenda. Jamaat-e-Islami is reportedly moving to partner with former members of Pervez Musharraf's regime. These open relationships are unlikely to be a sign of decreased tactical collaboration; they are a warning of deepening strategic ties. Prior to his reported demise in a June 2011 drone strike in Pakistan, HuJI's military commander, Ilyas Kashmiri, built strong operational ties between myriad Islamist terrorist groups. Among other things, Kashmiri served as a coordinator between these groups and radicals in the West, as demonstrated by his linking up David Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana with LeT for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
So let's not get complacent. There will be no shortage of opportunities for foreign fighters who wish to travel to jihadi conflict zones. The threat landscape is dynamic and ever evolving. Even if we were to succeed in draining the swamp (a big "if") that is the FATA, further challenges and dangers abound in Africa, especially Somalia (where recent reporting indicates a spike, not dip, in the numbers of Western foreign fighters), and beyond, including in areas not yet on the public's radar screen such as Kenya, Nigeria, and the Caucasus. Compounding the situation, current events on the ground in Syria, including al Qaeda's bid to leverage the crisis by calling for foreign fighters to exploit the revolt, may reshuffle and intensify foreign-fighter pipelines. Against this backdrop, determination and focus will be needed, especially because the pool of indigenous fighters is plenty deep. As for the FATA, it's a good start -- and now is the time to double down by ramping up the counterterrorism and military actions that got us this far.