Report: 8 Year Old Helped U.S. with Targeted Kill

Yemen expert Gregory Johnson has a fascinating article in the new Atlantic Magazine about an abandoned 8 year old in Yemen recruited as a spy to plant electronic chips on a U.S. drone target. The child, Barq al-Kulaybi , was recruited by officers of the Republican Guard, who paid his father. The father and son tell their story in a video made by al Qaida after they were caught. The father, Hafizallah al-Kulaybi, was likely killed after the video confession. Rumor has it they let the boy live but no one knows where he is.

The target of the drone strike was Adnan al-Qadhi,a military officer the U.S. believed was helping al Qaida and put on its targeted kill list. He was killed by a drone.

Johnson recounts what is on the video, which was published by al‑Malahim, in April 2013. He doesn't provide the link, but here it is on You Tube, with English subtitles. First the father confesses as Barq fidgets. Then Barq tells his story. [More...]

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    The use of children in war (5.00 / 6) (#1)
    by Peter G on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:55:04 AM EST
    ("child soldiers") is an internationally recognized war crime.

    That's never stopped us before... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:20:33 AM EST
    too sick for words.

    It would have been much much worse (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:27:39 AM EST
    if this had been done by a republican administration.

    Immoral even, on top of being a war crime.


    More (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by jbindc on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 12:10:41 PM EST
    Although it has not been possible to independently verify the identity of the Republican Guard members involved in Barq's recruitment, one thing is definitively true: someone exploited an 8-year-old boy. Either U.S. allies in Yemen used him to abet a killing, or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used him as a pawn in its propaganda strategy, or both. The evidence strongly suggests that America's allies in Yemen recruited the boy, but there is nothing to indicate that U.S. officials knew anything about Barq's role as a child spy. U.S. officials are aware, however, that Yemen uses children in conflicts, a practice the State Department annually documents in its Trafficking in Persons report. In 2008, Congress passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which prohibits the United States from financing the militaries of countries that use child soldiers, or providing training to those militaries. Every year since the law took effect in 2010, President Obama has signed a waiver exempting Yemen. The U.S. has cited both "national interests" and a belief that continued engagement with countries like Yemen could "solve this problem." Yemen is the only country that has received a full exemption each year.

    Those last three sentences just (5.00 / 6) (#12)
    by Anne on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 12:28:52 PM EST
    made me feel ill:

    Every year since the law took effect in 2010, President Obama has signed a waiver exempting Yemen. The U.S. has cited both "national interests" and a belief that continued engagement with countries like Yemen could "solve this problem." Yemen is the only country that has received a full exemption each year.

    Would it be unkind of me to wonder how Sasha's and Malia's dad could be so craven?  He seems to bring them into the conversation when it suits him, so it doesn't seem entirely out of bounds.


    Totally agree with you (none / 0) (#26)
    by star on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 06:51:38 PM EST
    Feeling so disturbed ..little boy's face haunting me..got to wonder how anyone can justify America killing from the sky with out judge or jury..If this is the situation under a liberal president, how is it any different from a scary Republican president?

    Where is our secretary of state, and future hope of  Democrat party on the drone and associated humane issues? About time true liberals have an open discussion before the coronation of next presidential nominee.


    The secretary of state is busy (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by shoephone on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 07:51:15 PM EST
    trying to convince us the Egyptian military still deserves our $1.5 billion after killing more than 600 people yesterday.

    Kerry is out of his league... (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by desertswine on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:50:40 PM EST
    Wasn't it just last week he was saying that the Egyptian military was "restoring democracy" and that the military was asked to intervene by "millions and millions" of people?

    Our Secretary of State is (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by MO Blue on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:32:50 PM EST
    John Kerry. Personally I don't think of him as the future hope of the Democratic Party.

    I do agree that voters would be better served if they focused on the positions that politicians take and especially the past and current actions taken relevant to the issues that are important to you as an individual.


    Once you make child laborers capital (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by jondee on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 03:46:23 PM EST
    fodder, it's not that big a leap to make them cannon fodder..

    In both cases they're exploited and reduced to a means to an end..


    I wonder if an appropriate warning (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:29:50 AM EST
    should be added that viewing this video may flag you for NSA surveillence.

    Clicking the link (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Edger on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:43:29 AM EST
    but then not watching the video may get you a brighter red flag.

    Actually, just being on the internet is enough.


    Jeralyn, thank-you for making your (none / 0) (#31)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 10:01:49 PM EST
    title the least abrasive of what has come out....

    Did an 8-Year-Old Spy for America?

    How about the DaileyMail's pure copy of this piece:

    Meet the 8 year old boy the US used as a spy to plant a chip on his surrogate father - an Al Qaeda target in Yemen - so they could kill him in a drone strike

    I wish there was an news article out there in english on this piece...independent of the linked editorials.

    I have half a page of notes, from the article itself, that draws into question the veracity of what is presented.  It may all be true, but even the author questions it at the end...

    Either U.S. allies in Yemen used him to abet a killing, or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used him as a pawn in its propaganda strategy, or both.

    Let me fix this to be more accurate...

    Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula used him in its propaganda strategy and the U.S. allies in Yemen may have used him to abet a killing.

    I am saying it that way because the author questions it and I will tell you the video IS a recruitment propaganda video...factual or not.

    Where to start?  I know where to end, if I were to make it there.  Remember these words about this Yemen branch of al Qeada...

    Since its founding in 2009, this group has developed a local reputation built in part around truthfulness.

    The author wants you to believe what is shown in the video is true...and he bases most of the "corroborated" facts on the video.

    Let's start with this:

    Still, when the U.S. asked the Yemenis for permission to strike, the government agreed. Some officials even concurred with the American assessment that Qadhi was al-Qaeda's local commander in Bayt al-Ahmar, pointing to the fact that he had a giant mural of the black flag associated with al-Qaeda painted on his house.

    So we are to believe that the US needed a locating beacon to find the house and the target?  

    Someone help me with this one, before I go on.  Again, I am just questioning the article.  


    Let's stick with the house... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:05:20 PM EST
    Let's say all the houses have flags on them.  OK, but the Yemen sources knew where the house was...where Barq was staying.  

    With all those drones buzzing around and meetings with US officials, nobody could mark up a surveillance photo taken by a drone showing locations of civilian dwellings and other points of interest for the drone conference war room to review back in the states? The place that

    can involve as many as 100 people watching on video monitors in multiple agencies, and somebody presents a set of possible targets

    The author fails to mention his Yemen sources telling him about marked-up photos.  Should we believe this was not done?  


    Let's ignore photo surveilence (none / 0) (#33)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:39:23 PM EST
    I believe Barq was a spy...

    And numerous tribesmen, local journalists, and a nongovernmental organization have all independently stated that the story the Kulaybis tell aligns with what they believe to be true: 8-year-old Barq was a spy.

    I believe it plausable that we have may have small beacons to place on targets.  Look at your smart phone.  The beacon doesn't need to do all that stuff your phone does.  It just needs to broadcast a repeating digital signal, but why do that?  Why not have the drone activate the device when it gets in range.  A continuous signal can be picked up by the enemy.  The device would get a wee bit bigger, if it receives, as well as transmits....but you can make the battery smaller.  Maybe this makes the device smaller.  I suspect the device does not transmit continuously for security reasons, as well.  You decide.  

    Any thoughts on the beacon, so far?  


    I have thoughts about the beacons. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:11:13 AM EST
    I don't think we want the enemy to get their hands on even one beacon.  The enemy will find a way to reverse engineer that thing in no time.  Maybe the Yemen people aren't capable, but every country not privy to our beacon technology will want one.

    I don't think we give the beacon to the Yemens to give to Barq.  I don't think we give a beacon to the Yemens period...without knowing every detail of where it will go and who will touch it.  Maybe I am wrong.  

    Maybe we have simpler technology and chose to use it without fear of it being compromised.  Here's where the story diverges...Let's say Barq does get the two beacons.


    Who's We? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:20:01 AM EST
    That information is classified ;-). (none / 0) (#37)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:27:28 AM EST
    For $25 you can buy a beacon (none / 0) (#56)
    by Visteo1 on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:00:55 PM EST
    and they'll even throw in a bag of chips.

    they can be handed out to informants, without fear of compromising clandestine, sophisticated American technology.

    What does Barq do with beacons (none / 0) (#36)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:25:27 AM EST
    "I climbed on the table where his coat was and put [a tracking chip] in his pocket," Barq says. Scrambling to complete his mission before Qadhi came out of the bathroom, he slipped back to the floor and slid a second chip under a freestanding cupboard, just as he had been taught.

    Later that day, apparently worried that the chip under the cupboard was too obvious, Barq removed it. But the first chip, the one in the pocket of Qadhi's coat, was still in place and emitting a signal.

    The drone kills the target.  

    Where is the second beacon?  

    Did the author miss this?  Has it been reverse engineered?  Why no pictures of the beacon?  Did Barq destroy it as instructed?  Did dad?  Why no mention in the video?  Not toooo important to the narative, until you ask!


    I was going to bring up more (none / 0) (#38)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:54:08 AM EST
    suspicious content from the article and present a divergent beacon scenario.  I'll just ask was Barq the best person to plant the beacons, if they existed at all?  He certainly would be less suspicious to the target.

    According to a source close to al-Qaeda, the group later pardoned Barq because of his age, but his family, which has refused all requests for interviews, has yet to confirm his status.

    Himyar says he does not blame Barq for the death of his brother; he blames the Yemeni and U.S. governments, whom he is planning to sue.

    When he comes to court, I hope he brings the second beacon as evidence and I pray that he brings Barq to testify.  I will cry when I see his smiling face once again.  I have been unable to view the video a second time.



    You might try putting this (none / 0) (#45)
    by sj on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:50:32 AM EST
    much stuff in a diary. Just a thought.

    Thanks, SJ (none / 0) (#48)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:14:37 PM EST
    I don't know how to open a diary.   I just wanted to get this out there for people to think a little harder about the well written editorial.  I believe the author noticed what I did, but left the article as is.  I commend him for that...that he did not fabricate or hide certain details.  If he has more details, I would like to see them.

    The story of Barq has yet (none / 0) (#55)
    by Visteo1 on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 12:07:42 PM EST
    to hit any major sources, but it is spreading and morphing.  In a Hungarian story, Barq was abandoned at the age or four (assuming Bing translator is working right).  This hit was promising.  The crossed-out word (inadvertantly) was left in purposely, but it doesn't transfer when pasted below.
    A shocking new story reveals that the U.S. army (inadvertently) had an 8-year-old boy turn into a spy and place electronic tracking devices on his surrogate father so that they could spot him and kill him in a scheduled drone attack.

    Being able to look at the video, again, one truthful message appears at the end.  

    O Aqsa We are Coming

    Is Al Qaeda really such a threat? (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by PatHat on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 11:52:20 AM EST
    To think that after staring down the Soviet Union, we'd be able to deal with a bunch of terrorists without violating the constitution and international law.

    The Daily Kos is timely... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Visteo1 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 08:39:02 PM EST
    Maybe (none / 0) (#39)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:35:35 AM EST



    Sorry (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:36:37 AM EST
    You really think we dealt with the (none / 0) (#53)
    by ruffian on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:44:45 PM EST
    Soviet Union without violating the Constitution?

    Well, that's a good point (none / 0) (#54)
    by sj on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 03:19:55 AM EST
    But at least it wasn't so insultingly obvious.

    I know I should make some erudite comment... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Aspidistra on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 04:06:42 PM EST
    But I can't stop thinking about that little boy and what might have happened to him. If you want to see an excellent film, I highly recommend Incendies - it is about the war in Lebanon and the damage that is done to child soldiers. Riveting movie.

    What's the big deal? (1.60 / 5) (#10)
    by redwolf on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 12:20:02 PM EST
    We've been bombing terrorists while they eat with their families since the beginning of the drone program.  We probably kill 20+ kids every month.  

    I haven't see anyone protesting those killings and using children as spies seems to be the next logical step if you don't care about children.

    You Are an Idiot (5.00 / 6) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 01:10:47 PM EST
    I don't care if this gets deleted, because I would argue it's an easily provable fact.

    All you do is try and provoke, but in the most juvenile way imaginable.  Yeah, no one here cares about kids, good point Red Wolf.


    I'd make a distinction (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mikado Cat on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 12:57:51 PM EST
    between a 12 year old perhaps whose family has been killed picking up a weapon and fighting, and paying a parent to send their kids off to earn them some money doing something they neither believe in or are compensated for, but I don't see how we can know.

    If using children is the local practice what should we do? I don't see that we can walk away, or materially change the local practices.

    We should walk away... (5.00 / 8) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 01:16:09 PM EST
    if we can't prevent the next underwear bomber without stooping this low, we should walk away.  

    Same goes for drone murder.  Our foreign policy perpetual war should borrow from the hippocratic oath..."first do no harm".


    Yeah... (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 02:27:36 PM EST
    ...we can't even get doctors to adhere to that oath, good luck with the Masters of War.

    I hear ya... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by kdog on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 02:56:11 PM EST
    but a man can dream...and Mikado asked!

    Obviously I haven't followed your advice about engaging our new friends...I guess I'm a sucker when it comes to giving the benefit of the doubt.  

    And are we not entertained? ;)


    Agree. If stopping the next bomber (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by ruffian on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 03:51:01 PM EST
    is so important we should be willing to put our own guys on the ground to target the baddies, or take them out, themselves, not use an 8 yr old. Just disgusting.

    Our foreign policy (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 08:39:01 AM EST
    especially with regards to the Middle East, has pretty much been a disaster.

    No, thanks! (none / 0) (#42)
    by Politalkix on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 09:37:44 AM EST
    We should not get involved in every civil war breaking out in the Middle East-Syria, Egypt and other countries.

    On the one hand the commenter is posting articles about how Al Qaeda is expanding in Syria. Then she is also posting articles criticizing the fact that we are not launching air strikes against the Assad government. Is she proposing that we take the side of Al Qaeda? This is something I would like to know.

    The problems in the Middle East have built up over decades (in some cases centuries). It will take time to sort itself out. There is no reason to precipitate matters any further by taking military action.

    The only thing we can do is ask Saudi Arabia and UAE not to bank roll the Egyptian military because that is hurting any influence we had in Egypt. However, I am doubtful whether these monarchies will listen to us because they think that any non-autocratic government not aligned with them is an existential threat to the future of monarchies in that part of the world. If we push them too hard, Saudi Arabia and UAE will move closer to other powers that support autocracies-Russia and China.

    We can't solve every conflict in the world with our military-particularly in conflicts where both sides are ready to fight to their deaths.


    Logic = Fail (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:38:53 AM EST
    I am not proposing anything, except noting that despite what Josh Marshall has to say, Al-Qaeda has not gone anywhere and is in fact, getting stronger in places.

    And while we shouldn't involve ourselves in every conflict, the indifference shown by the administration certainly hasn't helped things.

    But you keep going with your epic fails in logic.


    In other words (none / 0) (#46)
    by Politalkix on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 11:30:29 AM EST
    you do not really know what we should be doing (that is why you cannot propose anything) but would just like to complain!.
    We do not want either Al Qaeda or Assad or non-democratic governments in the middle east. Why should we be taking sides? Let them weaken each other by fighting each other. We can only provide humanitarian aid to victims and can assist if they are willing to settle their differences through dialogue at some point (if they ever get tired of fighting). Why would we want to make even more enemies by inserting ourselves into fights where each side is as nasty as the other? Your logic fails me.
    The US cannot and should not do too much in Egypt or Syria or other parts of the ME because non of the options (irrespective of who wins) are good for us.

    First of all (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:11:57 PM EST
    It is not my job to propose anything, as I do not have access to intelligence and diplomatic relations.  I (along with everyone else) are paying people who are smarter, have experience, and are in the thick of things to make these decisions, and not shirk their responsibilities.

    Secondly, anyone on a blog who definitively states they know the answer to the vast problems we fact, is completely full of cr@p and their statements should be taken with a grain of salt.


    Hmmm! (none / 0) (#49)
    by Politalkix on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:39:58 PM EST
    The "shirking of responsibilities" is a subjective opinion. A lot of people in our country think that it is the responsibility of our government to keep us out of mindless military conflicts.

    Well (none / 0) (#50)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 01:11:53 PM EST
    There is a lot more that can be done than just military intervention.

    But apparently that escapes you...


    Air strikes are military intervention (none / 0) (#51)
    by Politalkix on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 03:49:19 PM EST
    That escapes you. If you post articles supporting use of air strikes with a comment saying that Obama administration foreign policy is a disaster, one has to assume that you support military intervention or do not know what you are talking about.

    A lot of noise is being made about the 1.5 billion dollars we give Egypt. That amount is paltry compared to the amount the Egyptian military is getting from Saudi Arabia or UAE. We can stop giving Egypt that 1.5 billion dollars (I would support cutting that off) but realistically it would not do much other than be a symbolic gesture.

    If you have concrete suggestions, just voice them.


    We Know... (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 02:21:46 PM EST
    ...so don't even try "I don't see how we can know".

    We simply don't care, well we do, just have a Commander in Chief that thinks it's not a law worth following.

    So my answer is what kdog wrote.


    We have (5.00 / 4) (#22)
    by PatHat on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 03:49:58 PM EST
    a military/industrial/security complex which doesn't care about anything but building more bombs, more drones, more data centers...so the elites can make more money.

    It's why we can't have a discussion about whether any of this stuff is actually worth it....too secret.


    Yup... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 10:23:58 AM EST
    ...scare the cr@p out of them, then charge them to keep them save.  Never mind they are the ones creating the enemies we need to be protected from.

    I don't know a single person in the middle east, much less someone I dislike.  Yet here I am forced to pay for protection that apparently involves using children.


    I know this is wrong, (none / 0) (#25)
    by bocajeff on Thu Aug 15, 2013 at 04:55:13 PM EST
    I know this is the wrong site to bring this up, but since others are speaking about our Foreign Policy, I'll give it a shot.

    Where is/was our Secretary of State in all of this? Mrs. Rodham-Clinton surely was aware of this and I don't recall her speaking out about this issue. I don't think her position will be different when she is President.

    If you can't trust a liberal to be a liberal then we are screwed.


    The struggle (none / 0) (#52)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:22:09 PM EST
    in the middle east isn't for temporary goals, its to build a long term power base of both people and funding. I see no reason to think once the base is secure the primary export won't be trouble in other places.