When Adnan al-Qadhi landed on the kill list, U.S. officials reached out to some of these compliant partners in Yemen, requesting assistance in locating their target. Could they help?
According to a confession video later released by al-Qaeda, the man tasked with locating Qadhi was Abdullah al-Jubari, a Republican Guard veteran with years of experience. Evidently without the knowledge of the United States, he called an enlisted man named Hafizallah al-Kulaybi—Barq’s biological father.
Jubari told Kulaybi that he was sending another military officer to meet with him in Sanaa. “Major Khalid Ghalays will visit you,” Jubari said. “Carry out everything he dictates.”
The Republican Guard seems to have known that Kulaybi was short of money and that Barq was living with Adnan al-Qadhi in the village outside Sanaa. Kulaybi would later say on the video that someone, presumably Major Ghalays, explained that if Kulaybi could persuade his son to cooperate, by planting electronic chips on Qadhi, the Yemeni government would give the family a new car, a new house, and 50,000 Yemeni riyals (about $230). This would ease the family’s financial troubles, while giving young Barq the chance to “serve his country.”
Kulaybi’s superior officer ordered him to retrieve his son from Adnan al-Qadhi’s house. Kulaybi had sent Barq away because he could not afford to feed him. But now the top officials in the Yemeni military wanted the 8-year-old’s help, and they were willing to pay for it. On October 22, 2012, Kulaybi drove the few miles through Sanaa’s congested suburbs and past the military checkpoints that ring the city to collect the boy.
Father and son drove back to Sanaa that night, and the Kulaybi family was reunited. For the first time in months, Barq slept next to his brothers and sister and ate with his family. Three days later, on October 25, the feast night of Eid al-Adha, according to the video confession, a trio of Republican Guard officers visited Barq and his father.
A few months later, sometime early this year, Hafizallah al-Kulaybi, Barq’s father, sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a shiny silver backdrop, talking into a camera that was recording high-quality video. On the video, Kulaybi pauses periodically, as if trying to remember everything he is supposed to say. Dressed in a sky-blue shirt with dark vertical stripes and a maroon headdress, he looks tired. The bottom button of his shirt is undone; when he moves, the shirt splits open, revealing a black undershirt and the outlines of a sizable paunch. Sitting beside him is Barq, who fidgets while his father confesses to spying on al-Qaeda, an organization that had already executed several spies in Yemen, including one by crucifixion.
In the confession, which was posted on April 19 to jihadi forums by al‑Malahim, al-Qaeda’s media wing in Yemen, Kulaybi named both Abdullah al-Jubari and Khalid Ghalays as the men who’d recruited him and Barq for the mission. Two days later, both men denied the accusations. In a statement to Yemen Today, a local Arabic paper, Jubari said that he hadn’t had any contact with Kulaybi in five years, and he described the whole thing as a “sick farce.”