WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda's leaders have set up cells of engineers to try to shoot down, disable or hijack US drones, The Washington Post reported late Tuesday citing top-secret US intelligence documents.

The Al Qaeda leadership is “hoping to exploit the technological vulnerabilities of a weapons system that has inflicted huge losses against the terrorist network,” the Post said online.

“Although there is no evidence that Al Qaeda has forced a drone crash or successfully interfered with flight operations, US intelligence officials have closely tracked the group's persistent efforts to develop a counterdrone strategy since 2010,” the report said, citing the secret documents.

The Al Qaeda commanders are keen to achieve “a technological breakthrough that could curb the US drone campaign, which has killed an estimated 3,000 people over the past decade,” the Post reported.

Drone strikes have forced Al Qaeda operatives to limit their movements in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places.

They have also taken a toll among civilians in those countries, something that has fueled anti-US sentiment.

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