Spies within: America's deadliest weapon against al Qaeda revealed

      Effective human intelligence inside the al-Qaeda network combined with precise drone attacks has resulted in making the US-led war on terror very successful in 2009, U.S. and international intelligence officials have said. The Washington Post quoted a US counterterrorism official as saying that the combined advances have led to the deaths of more than a dozen senior figures in al-Qaeda and allied groups in Pakistan and elsewhere over the past year. Officials also attributed it to an isolated Osama bin Laden and his main lieutenants as isolated and unable to coordinate high-profile attacks. Many White House insiders have are of the view that al- Qaeda can be destroyed in Afghanistan even without an expanded troop presence, which was requested by General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and NATO commander there. The most important new weapon in the Western arsenal is said to be the recruitment of spies inside al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations, a long-sought objective. "Human sources have begun to produce results," Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations' al-Qaeda and Taliban monitoring group, said Tuesday. Barrett is the former chief of Britain's overseas counterterrorism operations. A senior administration official seconded Barret by saying that success had come "because of, first of all, very good intelligence capabilities to locate and identify individuals who are part of the al-Qaeda organization." The paper quoted Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair as saying that the use of spies was "the primary way" that U.S. intelligence determines which terrorist organizations pose direct threats is "to penetrate them and learn whether they're talking about making attacks against the United States."

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