Do U.S. drones kill Pakistani extremists or recruit them?

Do U.S. drones kill Pakistani extremists or recruit them?
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers, April 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — Even as the Obama administration launches new drone attacks into Pakistan's remote tribal areas, concerns are growing among U.S. intelligence and military officials that the strikes are bolstering the Islamic insurgency by prompting Islamist radicals to disperse into the country's heartland.

Al Qaida, Taliban and other militants who've been relocating to Pakistan's overcrowded and impoverished cities may be harder to find and stop from staging terrorist attacks, the officials said.

Moreover, they said, the strikes by the missile-firing drones are a recruiting boon for extremists because of the unintended civilian casualties that have prompted widespread anger against the U.S.

"Putting these guys on the run forces a lot of good things to happen," said a senior U.S. defense official who requested anonymity because the drone operations, run by the CIA and the Air Force, are top-secret. "It gives you more targeting opportunities. The downside is that you get a much more dispersed target set and they go to places where we are not operating."

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