US, Pakistan Shift Approach in Bin Laden Hunt
American newspaper says U.S. and Pakistani officials are shifting
tactics in their search for al-Qaida leader Osama
bin Laden, intensifying the use of unmanned, but lethal, spy
planes in western Pakistan.
The Washington Post Wednesday quotes the officials as saying
the number of missile attacks by pilotless Predator drones in
Pakistan has more than tripled in the past year. They say Pakistani
officials reported 11 such strikes this year, compared to three
strikes in 2007.
The Post says officials involved in the operations call the
attacks part of a renewed effort to cripple al-Qaida’s central
command. They say officials are targeting top al-Qaida members
in the hope that they could lead authorities to bin Laden.
The Bush administration did not immediately comment on the report.
But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino Wednesday said President
Bush has not given up on efforts to track down bin Laden and
U.S. officials have said they suspect bin Laden and other al-Qaida
leaders are hiding in Pakistan’s tribal regions along the Afghan
The United States has used drones to target militants along
Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in the past.
Since late August there have been at least five suspected U.S.
missile strikes against militant targets in Pakistan’s North
and South Waziristan regions. Afghan, U.S. and NATO officials
say the regions act as Taliban and al-Qaida sanctuaries.
The Post says U.S. officials attribute their failure to find
bin Laden mostly to an inability to develop intelligence informants
in Pakistan’s tribal regions.