Hard to tell how much of this is smoke and how much is true but it appears that the Predator attacks on al-Qaeda in Pakistan over the last several months is doing a lot of good - killing leaders and sowing distrust among the rank and file:
Since Aug. 31, the CIA has carried out at least 38 Predator strikes in northwest Pakistan, compared with 10 reported attacks in 2006 and 2007 combined, in what has become the CIA's most expansive targeted killing program since the Vietnam War. U.S. intelligence officials said they see clear signs that the Predator strikes are sowing distrust within Al Qaeda. "They have started hunting down people who they think are responsible" for security breaches, the senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said, discussing intelligence assessments on condition of anonymity. "People are showing up dead or disappearing."
Because of its success, the Obama administration is set to continue the accelerated campaign despite civilian casualties that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment and prompted protests from the Pakistani government.
"This last year has been a very hard year for them," a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said of Al Qaeda militants, whose operations he tracks in northwest Pakistan. "They're losing a bunch of their better leaders. But more importantly, at this point they're wondering who's next."
The counter-terrorism official and others, who also spoke anonymously, said the U.S. assessments were based in part on reports from the region provided by the Pakistani intelligence service.
The stepped-up Predator campaign has killed at least nine senior Al Qaeda leaders and dozens of lower-ranking operatives, in what U.S. officials described as the most serious disruption of the terrorist network since 2001.
The fact that a lot of this intel is coming from the Pakistani ISI should give us pause. Reliability has not been one of their strong suits and there is a strong, anti-American element present in the service.
But the information tracks with other news coming from different sources - al-Qaeda has been hit hard and they are in the process of trying to regroup. I doubt whether we worry too much about "anti-US sentiment in Pakistan" since they are perhaps the most anti-American country in the world and nothing we do will change that anytime soon. Right now, we ar concerned about Afghanistan and as long as Pakistan keeps harboring al-Qaeda and Taliban groups in their wild, Northwest Frontier Provinces, the predadtor attacks will continue.