In 2013, jihadists inspired by or linked to al-Qaida stormed a shopping mall in Kenya killing at least 72, invaded a natural gas facility in Algeria and executed 39 hostages.
Al-Qaida attacks are on the rise once again in Iraq. In Egypt's Sinai desert, experts fear homegrown militant groups may be edging closer to a formal affiliation with al-Qaida.
And jihadists have emerged as the most powerful force in the ranks of rebels in Syria fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Influence in Syria
In northeast Syria, Giwan Ibrahim, a top Kurdish commander who has been battling al-Qaida affiliated fighters said jihadists are having success in worldwide recruiting. Many of the jihadists he battles aren't Syrian-born.
"Ninety percent of them are from foreign countries. They are not from Syria: most of them from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya," he said. "I saw by my eyes people from European countries they were members of al-Qaida and fighting us."
Ibrahim said it is hard to counter jihadists because of their psychology.
"He has got nothing in his mind apart from destruction and to go to heaven. That makes the mission for him easier than for us," he said.