April 7, 2010: In North Waziristan, a section of Pakistan's tribal territories that borders Afghanistan, there is growing fear among the Islamic militants who have long used the area as a base area and refuge. So far this year, there has been at least one missile attack a week, leaving more al Qaeda or Taliban, usually leaders, dead. American UAVs, often operating in pairs, or packs of four, roam the skies almost constantly. Terrorist leaders are now terrorized, and have cut back on travel, and use of satellite phones. When terrorist leaders do travel, they use public transport, surrounded by women and children. The terrorists know that American ROE (Rules of Engagement) discourage "collateral damage" (civilian casualties), so the terrorists try to have women and children around at all times. But the locals know that the ROE doesn't absolutely forbid civilian casualties, and either refuse to rent rooms in their compounds to al Qaeda or Taliban leaders, or flee if the terrorists insist on staying.According to Strategy Page the Pakestani's are reinforcing the Infantry Division that has been leading the assault on North Waziristan...but more importantly, the locals are evidently getting pissed that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are using them as shields and their dead are directly related to that...
The Arabs and Afghan tribesmen have long been impressed by Western technology, and tend to exaggerate its capabilities. After you've handled an iPhone for a few minutes, that's not hard to do. So the continuing accurate missile attacks have the terrorists imagining all manner of capabilities for the UAVs and missiles
This Hellfire campaign is hitting al Qaeda at the very top, although only a quarter of the attacks so far have taken out any of the most senior leaders. But that means over half the senior leadership have been killed or badly wounded in the last two years. Perhaps even greater damage has been done to the terrorist middle management. These are old and experienced lieutenants, as well as young up-and-comers. They are the glue that holds al Qaeda and the Taliban together. Their loss is one reason why it's easier to get more information on where leaders are, and why rank-and-file al Qaeda and Taliban are less effective of late. The deaths of so many bodyguard and aides has rank-and-file terrorists thinking that the Hellfire missiles are actually being fired at any al Qaeda or Taliban, no matter what their rank.
This has led the local Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership to the belief that local Pakistanis are now "informing" on their location...which leads to more missiles.
The U.S. and the new civilian Pakistani government agreed that it was now open season on al Qaeda. The new Pakistani government asked the Americans to be as discreet, and accurate, as possible, and then hunkered down for the public outrage over this American "attack on Pakistan." But in fact, the Hellfire attacks were killing men who were responsible for terrorist attacks that had killed thousands of Pakistanis.
Pakistani officials believe that the multimillion dollar rewards on bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders may now actually work. The problem has always been that you can't capture an al Qaeda big shot without the assent of local tribal leaders. For a large chunk of that reward, that assent may now be had from some chiefs, and bin Laden knows it. He also knows that he has lost an irreplaceable number of veteran leaders (and allies), to U.S. Hellfire missiles, in the last two years. Rumor has it that big money was paid for the information that made some of these attacks possible. It's bad enough that al Qaeda is losing senior people, it's worse that they are now seen, by local tribesmen, as a way to get rich. Al Qaeda leaders now know what it's like to be terrorized.Sometimes the government actually get things right.