Biden administration officials are reportedly walking back claims that they made earlier this month when they claimed that they had killed a major figure in the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda.
The move by U.S. officials comes after the slain man’s family and others who knew him claimed that the father of 10, a former bricklayer, had no ties to terrorism and was tending to his sheep when he was hit by a Hellfire missile in Syria.
U.S. officials claimed shortly after the strike that the Predator drone had taken out a “senior Al Qaeda leader” — even though they did not provide proof or name the suspect.
The Washington Post reported that 56-year-old Lotfi Hassan Misto was the person killed in the strike.
“We are no longer confident we killed a senior AQ official,” a U.S. official told the Post.
Another U.S. official added, “though we believe the strike did not kill the original target, we believe the person to be al-Qaeda.”
The Pentagon has been tight lipped about the strike and has not released any information about who their target was, if the target escaped, and what information they had indicating that Misto was an al-Qaeda terrorist.
“Centcom takes all such allegations seriously and is investigating to determine whether or not the action may have unintentionally resulted in harm to civilians,” said Michael Lawhorn, a spokesman for Central Command.
The incident is reminiscent of a drone strike the Biden administration made in August 2021 during President Joe Biden’s disastrous pullout from Afghanistan where the administration claimed to have “conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon 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,” the administration claimed. “Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.”
However, the administration admitted a couple of weeks later that the drone strike was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
This report has been updated to include additional information.