Drones Take Heavy Toll on al Qaeda Leaders and Fighters' Morale

The latest al Qaeda honcho caught in the cross hairs of an American drone is a high ranking operative named Ghazwan al Yemeni, who is believed to have helped plan the suicide bomb attack that killed seven CIA employes at a remote Afghan base.

Since that Dec. 30 attack on the CIA, U.S. drone strikes have been so relentless and so precise that an al Qaeda lieutenant was intercepted sending a plea for help to al Qaeda's number one target Osama bin Laden.

An American drone lingering over the Pakistani village of Miram Shah last week unleashed a salvo that killed al Yemeni. Al Yemeni, a top al Qaeda trainer who specialized in suicide missions, is believed to have supervised the preparations and the explosives for the attack on the CIA base.

VIDEO: The CIA is involved in an aggressive campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan.Play
Drone Attacks Pressure al Qaeda

Miram Shah is located in North Waziristan section of Pakistan, a lawless frontier area that is a haven for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. It is also located directly across the border from where the CIA attack took place.

The barrage of missiles from drones has been hammering the top echelons of the Taliban and al Qaeda. There have been at least 22 strikes in Pakistan in just over two months this year, compared to a total of 53 drone strikes in all of 2009.

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Washington Post the campaign against al Qaeda is the "most aggressive operation that the CIA has been involved in" in the history of the agency.

"Those operations are seriously disrupting al-Qaeda," Panetta said. "It's pretty clear from all the intelligence we are getting that they are having a very difficult time putting together any kind of command and control, that they are scrambling. And that we really do have them on the run."

The pressure is so great on Al Qaeda that in a recent intercept from Pakistan an Al Qaeda operative was heard pleading to another Qaeda agent for help and leadership from bin Laden.

But bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, appears to be taking no chances and is believed to be hunkered down somewhere in Pakistan. The al Qaeda chieftain's legendary caution was reinforced last year when a drone strike in the tribal regions of Pakistan narrowly missed his top deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri.

Osama bin Laden in Hiding Now for Eight Years

Bin Laden, in hiding now for eight years, still has the biggest bull's eye on his back and Attorney General Eric Holder said this week there is only an infinitesimal chance he would be taken alive.

"The reality is that we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden," Holder said, sarcastically referring the warning police give to suspects that anything they say could be held against them.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American general in Afghanistan, didn't rule out capturing bin Laden alive.

"If Osama bin Laden comes inside Afghanistan, we certainly would go after trying to capture him alive and bring him to justice," the general said.

Despite the enormous pressure being brought on the top ranks of al Qaeda and the Taliban, the drones have yet to flush bin Laden into the open.