By CNN's Paul Courson
A country-by-country study of trends in terrorism finds unilateral and "lone wolf" threats rising alongside state-sponsored acts, according to findings released Thursday by the U.S. State Department.
The 200-page study, "Country Reports on Terrorism 2012," includes a strategic assessment, a survey of counter terrorism efforts and reviews of what researchers believe are state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.
The Iranian government was cited for a "resurgence" of what the report calls "state sponsorship of terrorism" through Iran's military intelligence apparatus and support for terrorist operatives associated with Hezbollah, who carry out attacks outside Iran.
The report also concluded that independent terrorist activity exists without obvious support from organized governments. Counter-terrorism efforts are having an impact on al-Qaeda, it said, evidenced by splintered leadership. That has forced the group to operate in smaller, more local venues, the study found.
The report's Strategic Assessment said al-Qaeda's "ability to direct the activities and attacks of its affiliates has diminished, as its leaders focus increasingly on survival." The study cautioned that the group retains influence operating from its safe haven in western Pakistan.
Libya is a continued trouble spot, the study said, because of a "security vacuum" that "provided greater opportunity for terrorists to operate." One example was last September's attack by extremists in the town of Benghazi, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three American staffers at a diplomatic post.
The study, mandated as an annual review by Congress, was prepared by social scientists at the "National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism," based at the University of Maryland.