US & Canada

Leaked CIA report: Targeting Taliban leaders 'ineffective'

The aftermath of a US drone strike Image copyright AFP
Image caption The US has carried out numerous drone strikes against the Taliban

The removal of senior Taliban leaders has had little impact on the organisation, a CIA report released by Wikileaks has said.

The 2009 report analyses "high value targeting" in a number of conflicts - the assassination of senior insurgents.

It said the Taliban's ability to replace lost leaders has hampered the effectiveness of coalition operations against its leadership.

The CIA would not comment on the leaked documents.

The report, which Wikileaks describes as "pro-assassination", looks at the pros and cons of "high value targeting" (HVT) programmes.

As well as examining recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report assesses British action in Northern Ireland, Sri Lankan operations against Tamil Tigers and French efforts during the Algerian civil war, among others.

Benefits of HVT operations, according to the report, include "eroding insurgent effectiveness, weakening insurgent will and reducing the level of insurgent support".

Potential negatives include "strengthening an armed group's bond with the population" and "radicalising an insurgent group's remaining leaders".

On Afghanistan, the report said that targeting senior Taliban figures has been constrained by problems connecting it to broader Afghan and Nato efforts against the organisation.

It also says the Taliban has "good succession planning and bench strength, especially at the middle levels".

Since the report was written, President Obama has increased drone strikes in north-west Pakistan, targeting Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.

There have also been several strikes in Yemen.

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