US commanders getting close to attacking Laden?

US commanders getting close to attacking Laden? 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 two years.

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 Miran Shah.