Either way, such unilateral strikes appear to be the U.S.’s best chance at defeating al-Qaeda — specifically since Pakistan is either impotent or indifferent to the fact that jihadis are operating from its soil. “U.S. Predator strikes cripple al Qaeda in Pakistan?” by Sanjeev Miglani for Reuters, February 6:
America’s ramped-up Predator drone campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan’s northwest is starting to pay off, according to U.S. and Pakistani intelligence authorities quoted in a clutch of media reports.
Eleven of the group’s top 20 “high value targets” along the Afghan border have been eliminated in the past six months Newsweek magazine reports, citing Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The strikes by the unmanned drones circling high above Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas have been so pin-pointed that in one case a missile fired at a hideout in North Waziristan didn’t just hit the right house, but the room in which Mustafa al-Misri (“Mustafa the Egyptian”) and several other Qaeda operatives were holed up, the magazine reports, quoting a Taliban sub-commander.
A U.S. counter-terrorism official goes so far as to suggest that the CIA-directed strikes have been so successful that it was possible to foresee a “complete al Qaeda defeat” in the mountainous region , according to this report in America’s National Public Radio.[…]
That doesn’t suggest a waning of militant forces in the region.
Perhaps the best conclusion you can draw is that the Predator strikes have had an impact on al Qaeda’s ability to strike at the United States, but the group is by no means decimated…