An 8-year-old boy reportedly placed electronic tracking devices on his stepfather so that the man could be found and killed in a drone attack by American forces.
Barq al-Kulyabi and his biological father have confessed to helping spy on the stepfather, a reported al Qaeda officer, and now the biological father is believed to have been killed while the fate of the young boy remains unknown, according to Mail Online.
Mail Online also reports that in a story by The Atlantic about the entire incident, the young boy reportedly helped lead American drones to an al Qaeda operative named Adnan al-Qadhi who had been placed on the U.S. ‘kill list’ due to his role in the Yemeni branch of the terrorist organization.
The Yemeni government needed the child’s help, according to The Atlantic. The Republican Guard officers told him what they wanted him to plant tiny electronic chips on the man he had come to think of as a surrogate father. The boy knew and trusted the officers as they were his biological father’s friends and he reportedly told them he would try.
Some members of the Republican Guard knew that the boy’s biological father needed money and that the boy was being cared for by al-Qadhi, who had taken him in after he was sent away to go live with a distant relative because his parents didn’t have the money to take care of him.
In order to make the connection, the Republican Guard offered to give the family a new house, car and 50,000 Yemeni iyals which converts to about $230. Kulaybi struck a deal with his higher-ups and drove from Sanaa to Bayt al-Ahmar, which was only a few miles away, to pick up his once-dismissed son.
Qadhi took the boy back into his home and the new young spy reportedly made his move.
“I climbed on the table where his coat was and put [a tracking chip] in his pocket,' the boy recounted later in a confession video,” according to Mail Online. He also put a second chip beneath a cupboard, but he later removed that one because he feared that it was going to be spotted.
A senior White House official told The Atlantic, “The claim that the U.S. government was in any way involved in purportedly using an 8-year-old in this incident is unequivocally wrong.”
While the U.S. got their target, al Qaeda eventually got theirs as well, capturing the boy and his father and forcing them to make a confession video where they explain what Republican Guard officers they had spoken to and what their roles in the set up were.