Gregory Johnsen of the Atlantic has report that a drone strike in Yemen against an accused Al Qaeda soldier was made possible because US allies in the region convinced an 8 year old boy to put a chip in the pocket of a man he considered to be his surrogate father.

At the time of the meeting, the boy didn’t know that the United States had decided to kill a man named Adnan al-Qadhi, and had turned to its allies in Yemen for assistance. Now the Yemeni government needed the child’s help. The Republican Guard officers told him what they wanted him to do: plant tiny electronic chips on the man he had come to think of as a surrogate father. The boy knew and trusted the officers; they were his biological father’s friends. He told them he would try. He would be their spy.

Democracy Now has also reported on the story in an interview with Gregory Johnsen:

AMY GOODMAN: Who were the allies that got the little boy to plant this chip?

GREGORY JOHNSEN: Well, this is Yemeni intelligence. This is the Republican Guard. These are the people that the U.S. works with on the ground. And the reason I think this is so important is because we often talk about drones as this amazing piece of technology, and we all know, from reporting that people like Jeremy Scahill and others have done, that the U.S. has been carrying out strikes in Yemen for the past three-and-a-half years, and drones are something that the U.S. continues to argue are this scalpel-like approach which we can go and get only the bad guys and no one else. The problem with that is that drones are a dependent piece of technology, which means they rely on intelligence from the ground. And the U.S. is very, very weak in human intelligence on the ground in places like Yemen, so they often rely on partners like Yemeni intelligence, like Saudi intelligence, and these groups don’t have the same moral and ethical framework that we often take for granted. And so, the U.S. is really getting into bed with some very questionable people here.

In 2008 Congress passed the Child Soldier Protection act that would prevent the US from giving support to nations who use children to commit acts of war, but for the last three years President Obama has signed a waiver for the nation of Yemen.

Link to the Atlantic article:

Link to Democracy Now! interview: