Drone strikes forcing al Qaeda leaders to move into cities

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Lahore, Aug. 9 (ANI): The US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas are forcing al Qaeda leaders to move into urban areas, the Daily Times reports.

According to CIA sources, the drone attacks have killed 20 al Qaeda commanders in the past 18 months.

Experts say that aerial surveillance is far more complicated in cities, and this is one reason why al Qaeda had retreated to urban compounds.

"Staying in the tribal regions made them too vulnerable," said Katherine Tiedemann, a policy analyst on counter-terrorism strategy at the New American Foundation.

In the Tribal Areas, the al Qaeda leadership has fallen to a younger generation of Taliban.

Intelligence officials believe that while Osama Bin Laden remains the figurehead leader, a 15-member shura now runs the organisation's affairs.

The council is headed by Mustafa abul al-Yazidi, a Saudi, and Abu Yahaya al-Libbi. Al-Yazidi is overall in charge of operations in the region.

In recent months, CIA's Predator and Reaper drones have been targeting Taliban leaders rather than focusing exclusively on Al Qaeda commanders.

"We don't carry out any operations across the border in Pakistan because there is no legal mandate for us to do so," a defence official told the Times.

Although there are still hopes that cell phone intercepts or couriers might lead to Bin Laden, he has so far evaded US Predators since disappearing in 2001.

According to intelligence officials, Bin Laden was not thought to be in Waziristan. (ANI)

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