Monday, 21 March 2011

Drones 'winning' war against al-Qaeda, says ex-CIA head

BBC News Online has a summary of opinion expressed in tonight's second part of BBC2's The Secret War on Terror (catch up on iPlayer):
More than 40 people were killed in Pakistan last week in a US drone attack near the Afghan border. The use of unmanned drones have always been controversial, but ex-CIA director Michael Hayden says they are winning the war.

Ten years on from 9/11, al-Qaeda appears to be on the back foot. One of the main reasons is that its leadership no longer enjoys untouchable sanctuary in the tribal areas of Pakistan where for many years it has been able to plot and train its recruits.

The reason? Pilotless American drone aircraft with a payload of deadly Hellfire missiles, guided to their targets by remote control from thousands of miles away in the American desert. Not for nothing are the drones known as "Predators".
The program explores both the effectiveness and the controversial legality of this example of 'new warfare'.... Whatever the various opinions, the former head of the CIA is convinced:
"It has been a very strong significant force in making the al-Qaeda senior leadership spend most of their waking moments worrying about their survival, rather than threatening yours or mine. And that is a war-winning effort," he told me.
 The program goes on to discuss other opinions regarding the prospect of victory in the 'war against terror', not least that of retired MI5 Director, Baroness Manningham-Buller:
At the end of the interview, given her long experience in fighting terrorism in Northern Ireland and her intimate knowledge of the secret talks between MI5 and the IRA, I asked her if we should talk to al-Qaeda as we had once talked to the IRA.

"It's always better to talk to the people who are attacking you than attacking them, if you can.Her reply took me by surprise. "I would hope that people are trying to do so," she said. I don't know whether they are, but I would hope that people are trying to reach out to the Taliban, to people on the edges of al-Qaeda to talk to them."

I then asked her if she thought that al-Qaeda would listen.

"I don't know," she said. "Doesn't mean to say it's not worth trying."
Do read the whole article - do watch the program!

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