Testimony and footage of the drone strike show it killed 10 people, including seven children.
The New York Times did journalism. I’m glad it did.
Four reporters swam through testimony and footage of the “righteous strike” Biden took in Afghanistan to kill a man supposedly connected to ISIS on August 29 after the terrorist attack on the Kabul airport.
The testimony and footage contradicted Biden’s claims. It seems the drone murdered U.S. aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and his family.
In fact, the reporters found out that the drone killed 10 people, including seven children.
U.S. officials claim they did not know their target was Ahmadi. They “deemed him suspicious because of how they interpreted his activities that day, saying that he possibly visited an ISIS safe house and, at one point, loaded what they thought could be explosives into the car.”
Ahmadi, 43, worked as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International (NEI) since 2006. The aid group is based in California.
Ahmadi’s relatives said he left the house at 9 AM. He drove a white 1996 Toyota Corolla, which belonged to NEI.
He “lived with his three brothers and their families, a few kilometers northwest of the” Kabul airport.
The Times spoke to the NEI country director about Ahmadi:
The morning of the strike, Mr. Ahmadi’s boss called from the office at around 8:45 a.m., and asked him to pick up his laptop.
“I asked him if he was still at home, and he said yes,” the country director said in an interview at N.E.I.’s office in Kabul. Like the rest of Mr. Ahmadi’s colleagues, he spoke on condition of anonymity because of his association with an American company in Afghanistan.
It is unclear if officials were referring to one of the three stops that Mr. Ahmadi made to pick up two passengers and the laptop on his way to work: The latter location, the home of N.E.I.’s country director, was close to where a rocket attack claimed by ISIS would be launched against the airport the following morning, from an improvised launcher concealed inside the trunk of a Toyota Corolla, a model similar to Mr. Ahmadi’s vehicle.
A Times reporter visited the director at his home, and met with members of his family, who said they had been living there for 40 years. “We have nothing to do with terrorism or ISIS,” said the director, who also has a U.S. resettlement case. “We love America. We want to go there.”
U.S. officials started tracking Ahmadi when he left his house because he drove a white sedan, which was their target. The white sedan supposedly left an ISIS safe house only five kilometers northwest of the Kabul airport.
These same officials “claimed they intercepted communications between the sedan and the alleged ISIS safe house, instructing it to make several stops.”
Those with Ahmadi that day dispute the officials:
After stopping to pick up breakfast, Mr. Ahmadi and his two passengers arrived at N.E.I.’s office, where security camera footage obtained by The Times recorded their arrival at 9:35 a.m. Later that morning Mr. Ahmadi drove some co-workers to a Taliban-occupied police station downtown, where they said they requested permission to distribute food to refugees in a nearby park. Mr. Ahmadi and his three passengers returned to the office around 2 p.m.
As seen on camera footage, Mr. Ahmadi came out a half-hour later with a hose that was streaming water. With the help of a guard, he filled several empty plastic containers. According to his co-workers, water deliveries had stopped in his neighborhood after the collapse of the government and Mr. Ahmadi had been bringing home water from the office.
“I filled the containers myself, and helped him load them into the trunk,” the guard said.
At 3:38 p.m., the guard and another co-worker moved the car farther into the driveway. The camera footage ends soon after, when the office shut off its generator at the end of the work day, and Mr. Ahmadi and three passengers left for home.
Officials said they saw Amhadi and three other people placing “heavy packages into the car, which they believed might contain explosives.”
The coworkers said the car only had two laptops inside and the trunk held water-filled containers.
A passenger said they had a good time driving home, filling the car “with their usual laughter and banter.”
Ahmadi dropped them off at their homes and headed back to his house. One person asked him to come inside, but Ahmadi wanted to go home.
Officials admitted they did not much about the target’s identity. They knew he was a threat. They also said they only saw one man greet Ahmadi so they assumed the drone would not kill or harm women or children.
The Times investigation found otherwise:
But according to his relatives, as Mr. Ahmadi pulled into his courtyard, several of his children and his brothers’ children came out, excited to see him, and sat in the car as he backed it inside. Mr. Ahmadi’s brother Romal was sitting on the ground floor with his wife when he heard the sound of the gate opening, and Mr. Ahmadi’s car entering. His adult cousin Naser had gone to fetch water for his ablutions, and greeted him.
The car’s engine was still running when there was a sudden blast, and the room was sprayed with shattered glass from the window, Romal recalled. He staggered to his feet. “Where are the children?” he asked his wife.
“They’re outside,” she replied.
Romal ran out into the courtyard; he saw that his nephew Faysal, 16, had fallen from the exterior staircase, his torso and head grievously wounded by shrapnel. “He wasn’t breathing.”
Amid the smoke and fire, he saw another dead nephew, before neighbors arrived and pulled him away, he said.
Officials still claim the drone only killed three people. Ahmadi’s relatives listed those the drone killed and described the scene outside:
Mr. Ahmadi and three of his children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Mr. Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30; three of Romal’s children, Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2; and two 3-year-old girls, Malika and Somaya.
Neighbors and an Afghan health official confirmed that bodies of children were removed from the site. They said the blast had shredded most of the victims; fragments of human remains were seen inside and around the compound the next day by a reporter, including blood and flesh splattered on interior walls and ceilings. Mr. Ahmadi’s relatives provided photographs of several badly burned bodies belonging to children.
Ahmadi wanted to live in America. NEI was helping him. He applied for refugee resettlement.
The Pentagon’s statement is your typical PR word salad: “U.S. Central Command continues to assess the results of the airstrike in Kabul on Aug. 29. We won’t get ahead of that assessment. However, as we have said, no other military works harder than we do to prevent civilian casualties. Additionally, as Chairman Milley said, the strike was based on good intelligence, and we still believe that it prevented an imminent threat to the airport and to our men and women that were still serving at the airport.”DONATE
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