New York - The American President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top-secret process for determining which Al-Qaeda suspects should be placed on a "kill list," according to the New York Times Tuesday, citing dozens of top officials and former advisers.
The report said the US administration had developed what it termed the "kill list" as part of a stepped-up drone war against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan and Yemen.
"He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go," according to National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon quoted by the Time which described the top-secret process, begining with some 100 counter-terrorism officials sifting through biographies and "nominating" suspects in Yemen and Somalia, to be added to the kill list 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 Obama, who signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on especially complex and risky strikes in Pakistan -- about a third of the total, the Times said.
Obama personally approves the killing of top suspects, such as Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaqi -- a US citizen -- who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen last year.
The Times also described an internal debate over the administration's disputed method for counting casualties, in which men of fighting age within striking distance of a suspect are considered militants.
Some observers said the Obama administration's claim that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan was in the "single digits" was unrealistic.