Al-Qaeda is on the ropes. Driven out of Afghanistan and hunted in Pakistan, it has no place left to hide.
Some, like General James L. Jones, the national security adviser to Barack Obama, the US president, say there are only 100 or so al-Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan.
Others in the West claim that global jihad has been defeated by the so-called 'war on terror'.
Al-Qaeda's leaders have been targeted and killed by military raids or drone attacks, and intelligence agencies around the world are successfully thwarting planned terrorist attacks before they happen.
Watch part two
General Richard Myers
Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Author of Eyes on the Horizon
Dr. Marc Sageman
Former CIA officer
Author of Leaderless Jihad
Professor Robert Pape
Professor of Political Science, Chicago University
Author of Dying to Win
Center for Law and Security
Author of The Looming Tower: The Road to 9/11
Middle East editor, Newsweek
Former FBI agent
Author of Al-Qaeda: The True Story
Author of The Islamist
Author of The Nine Lives of al-Qaeda
Faris Bin Hazim
Conflict & Peace Center
General Abdel Meneem Farahie
From the Afghan government's anti-terrorism unit
So, is the US about to find an end to what threatened to be its longest-running war?
The reality is that, whilst direct al-Qaeda actions have been seriously restricted, the organisation has franchised from Somalia to Indonesia and North Africa.
In Afghanistan, it directs or collaborates in Taliban attacks.
Al-Qaeda is mercurial and, like a virus, mutates and adapts.
They are now waging global jihad on the web.
With highly sophisticated websites and its own video production arm, al-Qaeda is aiming to radicalise a whole new generation of militants.
How does the US see al-Qaeda's current threat level eight years after the 'war on terror' was launched?
Empire finds out.
This episode of Empire aired from Wednesday, October 28, 2009.