The United States mistakenly targeted and killed an innocent aid worker for an American company in a drone strike in Afghanistan, the New York Times suggested in an investigation into the country’s latest military action after the 20-year war which just ended.
The victim, according to the newspaper, was Zemari Ahmadi, 43, who died with nine members of his family, including seven children, when a missile from a US Air Force Reaper drone struck his car while ‘he was coming home from work in a residential area of Kabul.
US military officials have insisted that the targets of the August 29 operation were Islamic State suicide bombers planning an attack on Kabul airport similar to the one that killed 13 US soldiers assisting in the evacuations, and over 170 more three days earlier.
The action, insisted General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the United States, was a “fair strike” against members of Isis-K who had been observed at certain times of the day on the move. load what a surveillance team believed to be explosives into the vehicle. and visit a safe house known to the terrorist group.
But The Times reports, compiled from extensive video analysis, interviews with Ahmadi’s colleagues and family, and site visits, cast considerable and potentially devastating doubt on this official American version of events.
What US military observers understood was that Ahmadi was acting suspiciously, the newspaper said, going about his normal business as a worker for the California aid group Nutrition and Education International.
His duties that day were to drop colleagues off at various locations in Kabul, according to the NEI director in Afghanistan interviewed by a Times reporter, and the “explosives” in the vehicle were cartons of water that Ahmadi filled. from a pipe in his office and was taken home to his family.
“We have nothing to do with terrorism or Isis. We love America. We want to go, ”said the director, who was quoted anonymously because of the danger of being associated with an American company doing business in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post also published its own investigation into the deadly U.S. strike, which reached similar findings, including that there was no indication of a second larger explosion at the residential complex which Milley said was evidence of explosives in the back of the Ahmadi’s car.
The Post cited several experts who concluded that the damage captured in footage of the aftermath of the strike corresponded only to the explosion of a single Hellfire missile from the drone and the subsequent rupture of the car’s fuel tank.
Ahmadi, who had worked for NEI since 2006, lived in the compound with two of his brothers and their families. The 10 victims, according to the Times, were all related to him, including three of his own children, aged 10 to 20, and five other parents aged two to seven.
“They were all innocent,” Ahmadi’s brother Emal told The Times. “You say he was Isis, but he worked for the Americans. “
The parent said Ahmadi and a cousin both have open resettlement requests in the United States for themselves and their families.
The Times also spoke with neighbors and an Afghan health official who confirmed the children’s bodies had been removed from the site. A reporter who visited the next day saw blood splattered on interior walls and ceilings, and photographs provided by Ahmadi’s relatives of the children’s burned bodies.
In remarks following the strike, Milley conceded that the United States was aware of at least three deaths. “Were there others killed? Yes, there are others killed. Who they are, we don’t know.
The Defense Ministry is conducting its own investigation into the strike, which the Post reported was not yet conclusive. An unnamed senior military official who spoke to the newspaper said the area where Ahmadi’s car was struck, about four miles west of Kabul airport, was previously unknown to military analysts or intelligence.
The United States Central Command, the Department of Defense wing responsible for examining the incident, made no comment to either newspaper.
The US military already has a murderous record of errors in drone strike operations in Afghanistan. In 2008, 47 civilians, including 39 women and children, were killed on their way to a wedding.