A U.S. military investigation has concluded that an airstrike that was targeted at a potential ISIS-K terrorist ended up killing innocent people. The airstrike took place on Aug. 29, just a few days after an ISIS-K suicide bomber killed over 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel in a bomb blast at the Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul.
After the bombing, intelligence agencies warned of a potential second attack. A critical piece of intelligence was that a white Toyota Corolla could be a “key element” in the next attack. U.S. officials soon began tracking the activities of Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker who was employed by California-based Nutrition and Education International. Ahmadi used to drive a white Toyota Corolla.
Ahmadi was seen at a location believed to be a “key area of interest” to potential attackers. After tracking his vehicle for eight hours. U.S. officials decided to carry out the airstrike. At that time, they saw various men getting into the car and being dropped off at different locations.
Target was an aid worker
Ahmadi and nine members of his family, including seven children, were killed in the attack, which happened just a day before the U.S. officially withdrew from Afghanistan. Ahmadi’s employer had apparently applied for moving him into the U.S.
On Sept. 17, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, announced at a Pentagon briefing the results of his investigation on the issue. McKenzie admitted that he was “convinced” that the target was only an aid worker. Calling the airstrike a “mistake,” he took full responsibility for the strike and its tragic outcome.
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“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces… I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed. This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces,” McKenzie said.
He added that the U.S. had conducted the airstrike under the “theory of reasonable certainty.” McKenzie expressed hope that future American strikes in Afghanistan would be conducted with a “higher standard.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also offered condolences to the surviving family members of the airstrike. He admitted that Ahmadi’s activities on that day were “completely harmless” and “not at all related” to the imminent threat U.S. officials believed they were facing.
An ‘unbelievable tragedy’
The Pentagon had earlier claimed that the airstrike had triggered secondary explosions and that these explosions may have killed the civilians. However, three weapons experts told the New York Times that there were no signs of a secondary explosion near the burned-out Toyota vehicle, whether it be destroyed vegetation or blown-out walls.
A neighbor of the Ahmadi family said to CNN that there was “not much” left of the house following the explosion. Everything was unrecognizable and the remnants of bodies were in pieces. “All the neighbors tried to help and brought water to put out the fire and I saw that there were five or six people dead… The father of the family and another young boy and there were two children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were [also] two wounded,” another neighbor said to the media outlet.
The revelation that innocent Afghans were killed due to the U.S. airstrike has attracted criticism from several quarters. Democrat Representative Ro Khanna termed it an “unbelievable tragedy” and called for “more transparency and oversight” to ensure that such incidents never happen again.“Biden’s Pentagon admits that they killed 10 innocent people in Kabul, not the targeted ISIS-K terrorists. Meanwhile, Biden is taking a vacation on the beach, shirking off responsibility, holding no one accountable. Biden is a disgrace.” Republican Representative Andy Biggs said in a tweet.