The Pentagon has admitted the August 29 drone strike on a supposed ISIS-K operative instead killed an aid worker and 9 members of his family, including 7 children.
Head of US Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie admitted the strike was a ‘terrible mistake’ while addressing reporters Friday and said it was ‘unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces.’
‘It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology,’ McKenzie said.
McKenzie said the movements of the aid worker, Zemari Ahmadi tracked with intelligence about ISIS plans for an attack at Kabul airport.
A drone had observed men loading what were thought to be explosives into Ahmadi’s vehicle, but were actually jugs of water.
The deadly drone strike set off a large secondary explosion, which officials originally claimed was evidence the car was indeed carrying explosives, but an investigation determined was likely a propane tank located in the driveway.
‘I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed,’ McKenzie continued. ‘The strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and evacuees at the airport. But it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology, as the combatant commander, responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome.’
- ‘It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology,’ Head of US Central Command Gen. McKenzie said Friday
- He said the Pentagon is considering reparations for the family of the victims killed in the US drone strike
- Vehicle struck belonged to Zemari Ahmadi a 43-year-old aid worker who worked with the US
- Ahmadi and nine of his family members, including seven children, were killed by the Hellfire missile
- He had just returned home with clean water when his children and his brother’s children ran out to greet him
- McKenzie said there had been repeated warnings an attack would come from a white Toyota Corolla, the same car Ahmadi drove
“It is unlikely ISIS-K members killed in August Kabul drone strike”
“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to US forces,” McKenzie said of the airstrike at a briefing, following an investigation by the Military.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a lengthy statement on the investigation’s findings.
“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed.
The drone strike, as classified by Mckenzie as a “tragic mistake,” was previously hailed as a “righteous strike” by Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“In a dynamic high threat environment, the commanders on the ground had appropriate authority and had reasonable certainty that the target was valid but after deeper post strike analysis our conclusion is that innocent civilians were killed,” Milley said Friday. “This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident.”
Pentagon confirms driver killed ‘had nothing to do with ISIS’
“Mr. Ahmadi, 43, worked as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International, a California-based aid group. The morning of the strike, his boss called from the office around 8:45 a.m. and asked him to pick up his laptop,” the Times noted in an earlier report. Ahmadi left for work around 9:00 a.m., at which point he came under American surveillance.
The Pentagon appears to have taken full responsibility for the strike.
Biden administration admits killing 10 civilians in Kabul airstrike
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had staunchly defended the drone strike three days after it occurred, saying, “the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike.”
Ahmadi and nine members of his family, including the seven children, were killed in the airstrike, according to his brother Romal 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.
Ahmadi had a pending application to move to the US as a refugee.