Washington: Buoyed by their Unmanned
drones having taken out some top notch al Qaeda commanders,
including the group`s number three, US commanders believe
"they may be getting close to the top two".
"Perhaps we are getting close to the top two," US
intelligence officials said referring to world`s most wanted
terrorist Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, US
media reports said.
The officials quoted by CBS said two years of CIA
drone strike in Pakistan-Afghanistan border region had led to
"depletion of the senior bench for al Qaeda.
The assessment by the US military and intelligence
commanders, CBS said comes as the success is being
overshadowed by alarming reports that al Qaeda had recently
undertaken a major recruitment.
Quoting a source close to one of the Pakistan`s most
powerful Taliban militant commander, the American network said
militant groups ranks had swelled to record levels in the past
The sources told CBS that the drone strikes had led to
stress in al Qaeda`s core leadership as it was restricting the
movements of the cadres.
US commanders believe that the top two are avoiding
frequent movements and their guards maintaining complete radio
and digital silence so as not to give any clue about their
whereabouts in the face of massive electronic and satellite
surveillance launched by the US.
Notwithstanding Pakistan military and civilian
leaderships oft repeated claims that bin Laden may be dead, US
commanders said they were sure that al Qaeda`s top leadership
was hiding in safe havens in the restive tribal region between
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
CBS said that the US officials believe they stand
vindicated by the announcement of death of the outfit`s number
three 55-year-old Egyptian Mustafa al-Yazid.
Quoting Pakistani intelligence sources, CBS said
al-Yazid had been killed in a US missile strike on May 21 in
the North Waziristan tribal area.
Soon after the missile attack, the officials reported
that the two foreigners were among the 10 people killed in the
attack which occurred in the village of Boya near the town of