According to The New York Times, an American drone strike carried out in the final days of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan killed Afghan aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and his family, but not an ISIS target with a car bomb.
The strike was launched on August 29, less than 48 hours before the United States completed its military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Pentagon claimed that it killed at least one ISIS-K operative in an explosive-laden vehicle who posed an imminent threat to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Days before, an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated an explosion at the airport, killing 13 US service men as well as over 170 Afghans. As the United States concluded its evacuation, military authorities remained on high alert for the possibility of another attack.
Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command, said: “U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense… airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport. We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”
The US military announced on Aug. 27 that it had killed two suspected members of the Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan via drone strike — though the Biden administration has refused to reveal their names.
Two days later, the US drone killed Zemari Ahmadi in Kabul.
Zemari Ahmadi and nine members of his family, including seven children, were killed in the airstrike on Aug. 29, one day before the final US evacuation flights from Kabul, his brother Romal Ahmadi told the New York Times.
Who is Zemari Ahmadi?
Ahmadi worked for 14 years as a technical engineer in Afghanistan for the Pasadena, Calif.-based charity group Nutrition and Education International, which feeds hungry Afghans, according to New York Post.
The aid group had applied for him to move to the US as a refugee.
According to the NYT investigation, the strike did not result in the death of an ISIS-K fighter. Instead, it murdered Zemari Ahmadi, a 43-year-old relief worker, and nine other civilians, including seven children.
According to security footage obtained by the New York Times, Ahmadi had just arrived home and was parking his car in his courtyard when his children approached the vehicle to greet him. Eyewitnesses stated that a hellfire missile struck the vehicle, igniting a big fire that resulted in the deaths.
The Pentagon had been following Ahmadi’s vehicle all day, assuming he had stopped near an ISIS-K safehouse. Surveillance footage showed him and other individuals carrying canisters and loose sacks into his white Toyota with the help of other males.
Security footage and eyewitness accounts verified that Ahmadi had loaded water containers into his car, and the loose bags included laptop computers used by him and his coworkers at work. According to neighbors and family members, Ahmadi had been hauling water home due to a water shortage in his community.
Ahmadi worked as an electrical engineer and distributed food for Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) located in the United States that combats malnutrition. NEI requested for refugee admission to the United States for Ahmadi and his family four days before he was assassinated.
According to the NYT investigation, the drone operators had not been watching Ahmadi’s home all day, and they apparently saw only one other guy at his vehicle when the strike was launched, as well as no children. Military officials allegedly mistaken Ahmadi’s actions throughout the day, including filling the car and making many stops throughout his drive, for those of an ISIS-K terrorist.
The Biden administration carried out a drone hit days before the one that killed Ahmadi, claiming to have killed two ISIS-K leaders who aided in the attack on the Kabul airport. The day after Ahmadi’s death, ISIS-K launched rocket assaults on the airport from a site near one of Ahmadi’s commuting stops. ISIS-K used a white Toyota in the attacks, the same type of car that the US destroyed the day before with Ahmadi inside.
Before Ahmadi was slain, US officials supposedly had no idea who he was. According to the Pentagon, the event is still being investigated.