Where the al Qaeda of Osama bin Laden’s leadership flew an airplane into the Pentagon in a meticulously prepared operation, the tip of today’s global jihadi spear is increasingly pointed at exploiting such “soft targets” as shopping malls, sporting events, tourist attractions and, in the case of this week’s horror in Paris, the office of a satirical news magazine.

It’s a trend that intelligence officials say makes the fight against terrorist threats more complex and potentially more disturbing because the kinds of attacks now grabbing global headlines require far less planning and are harder to detect and disrupt.

Underscoring the difficulty facing counterterrorism forces, French officials were still hunting late Thursday evening for the two French-born Islamic brothers named as prime suspects in the attack that killed 12 and wounded 11 at the offices of the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

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