29 May 2012
Barack Obama personally oversees a top secret process drawing up a "kill list" of terrorists and al Qaeda suspects who should be targeted for drone missile strikes, officials have disclosed.
The US president has placed himself directly at the helm of his country's controversial secret war and insists on giving the final go ahead for the most contentious strikes.
He joins his advisers as they pore over the biographies and profiles of potential targets to decide who is a sufficient threat to the United States to be killed.
"He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go," Thomas Donilon, his national security adviser, told the New York Times.
"His view is that he's responsible for the position of the United States in the world." "He's determined to keep the tether pretty short." Dozens of advisers who spoke to the newspaper said the process began with around 100 counter-terrorism officials sifting biographies and "nominating" suspects in Yemen and Somalia during a secure video conference run by the Pentagon.
The CIA carries out a separate process for suspects in
Pakistan, it said.
The nominations then go to Mr Obama, who signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on the most risky strikes in Pakistan.
The details of the targeting process were disclosed as American forces in Afghanistan said they had killed al Qaeda's second most senior figure in the country.
Sakhr al-Taifi, a Saudi national also known as Musthaq and Nasim, was killed by a "precision air strike" in the Watahpur district of Kunar.
A statement said he was "responsible for commanding foreign insurgents, in addition to directing attacks against coalition and Afghan forces."
"He frequently travelled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al Qaeda leadership.
"He also supplied weapons and equipment to eastern insurgents and
managed the illegal transport of insurgent fighters into Afghanistan."
Another al Qaeda member had also died in the strike, but
no civilians were hurt, the statement added.