CIA-directed air raids into Pakistan have “decimated” al-Qaeda’s senior leadership, killing up to a dozen high-level targets, senior US military officials tell NPR. They say a “complete al-Qaeda defeat” there is now entirely possible. “The enemy is really, really struggling,” says one official. “These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest, and most rapid reduction in al-Qaeda senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.”
Officials caution that it is too early to declare victory, with some 100 al-Qaeda training “graduates” loose and unaccounted for. But “we know how bad this is for them,” says one official. “We see al-Qaeda guessing, trying to figure out how this is happening, and they haven’t figured it out yet.” The officials credit improved intelligence, particularly “human penetration” into al-Qaeda, with the strikes’ success.