"Guerillas have always gone where the cover is. The cover used to be in the jungles, but now we have foilage-penetrating radar, so they can be seen under the jungle canopy. It used to be that the cover was in the mountains, but now we have satellites and drones. The cover now is in the city, and there are big areas in cities in the developing world with no government or police presence."
David Kilcullen, in The World Today, October-November 2013, Vol 69, No.5, pp.32-33.
Kilcullen is promoting a new book "Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla".
Certainly in terms of Al Qaeda, Kilcullen appears to be on to something. Whilst the convention built up that Bin Laden and co were hiding out in the mountainous border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in practice many of the most significant figures were instead to be found in Pakistan's towns and cities. Consider not just Bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011, but also Abu Zubaydah (Faisalabad, 2002) Ramzi Binalshibh (Karachi, 2002) and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (probably in Quetta in 2003, although this is disputed).
I am yet to read Kilcullen's book, so it is not immediately clear to me how this coming urban guerilla relates to the western urban guerilla of 1970s and 1980s fame. Whilst some of those groups, like the Red Army Faction, at times proved militarily sophisticated they were often more pussycat than tiger, in large part because they developed little resonance amongst the broader working class. Also the urban guerilla tended to still need a safe haven outside of the cities where they operated - for the Red Army Faction, East Germany, for the IRA, the Irish Republic.
Still, that makes reading Kilcullen's book all the more interesting.