CBS News has confirmed a Hellfire missile was fired from an unmanned Predator drone and likely killed a top al Qaeda official in Pakistan. Unnamed officials tell CBS News the al Qaeda figure killed was not Osama bin Laden nor his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports the drone attack was in the mountainous Pakistani border area.
Details of the attack are still emerging, but a source with a variety of intelligence information told CBS News correspondent Peter Maer that the drone killed one of the top five terrorists on the U.S. wanted list. The source called it a "major hit" whose name will be "recognizable to many" when it becomes public.
However, officials told Dozier they have to study the strike zone, and the behavior of the al Qaeda operatives left behind to see either if they hold a funeral for the suspected target or somehow move to replace him to be able to confirm the target's identity.
"We have to study the pattern of life for a couple days, and see if anyone steps forward to take the target's place," a counterterrorism official told Dozier. "Then we have an idea that we did get him. Normally we wait for the NSA to study the area for 24 to 36 hours after a strike like this. We don't have that information back yet."
One official pointed out they're taking a target out nearly every day, and the hard part is proving who they got, Dozier reports.