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Target In Kabul Drone Strike Was Aid Worker, No Ties To ISIS Or Secondary Explosion, NYT Reports
Photo taken on Sept. 2, 2021 shows damaged vehicles at the site of the U.S. airstrike in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. TO GO WITH: "Feature: Neighbor, relative of drone strike victims lambaste U.S. killing in Afghanistan.
Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via Getty Images

An explosive new investigative report from The New York Times released on Friday revealed that the man targeted by the U.S. Military in a drone strike last month — which the Biden administration claimed was to neutralize an ISIS threat — was actually an aid worker who worked for a U.S. organization and who had applied for refugee resettlement in the U.S.

The Times report, which came after an exhaustive review of relevant video footage from that day as well as interviews with numerous individuals on the ground in Afghanistan, raised serious doubts about the Biden administration’s version of events, “including whether explosives were present in the vehicle, whether the driver had a connection to ISIS, and whether there was a second explosion after the missile struck the car.”

The Times reports:

Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence, including extensive interviews with family members, co-workers and witnesses, suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family. While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.

Ahmadi, 43, worked for Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a U.S.-based organization. The morning of the day that he was killed he left for work in his white Toyota Corolla, at which time the U.S. started surveilling a white sedan because it allegedly had left a location thought to be an ISIS safe house.

“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,” the report said. “Throughout the day, an MQ-9 Reaper drone continued to track Mr. Ahmadi’s vehicle as it drove around Kabul, and U.S. officials claimed they intercepted communications between the sedan and the alleged ISIS safe house, instructing it to make several stops. But the people who rode with Mr. Ahmadi that day said that what the military interpreted as a series of suspicious moves was simply a normal day at work.”

The Times spoke with NEI’s country director, who had to stay anonymous due to security reasons, at his home and met his family, who had lived there for decades. The director, who has a U.S. resettlement case, said that they have nothing to do with ISIS or terrorism and that they “love America,” adding “we want to go there.”

The Times reviewed footage of Ahmadi’s movements throughout the day as he arrived at different locations. Ahmadi arrived at a Taliban police station where he and other aid workers requested permission to give food to refugees. He later filled up large jugs of water with the help of a guard to take back to his family because water deliveries to his home stopped after the Taliban took over the country following Democrat President Joe Biden’s disastrous pullout.

“Although the target was now inside a densely populated residential area, the drone operator quickly scanned and saw only a single adult male greeting the vehicle, and therefore assessed with ‘reasonable certainty’ that no women, children or noncombatants would be killed, U.S. officials said,” the report said. “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.”

“Since the strike, U.S. military officials justified their actions by citing an even larger blast that took place afterward,” the report noted. “But an examination of the scene of the strike, conducted by the Times visual investigations team and a Times reporter the morning afterward, and followed up with a second visit four days later, found no evidence of a second, more powerful explosion. Experts who examined photos and videos pointed out that, although there was clear evidence of a missile strike and subsequent vehicle fire, there were no collapsed or blown-out walls, no destroyed vegetation, and only one dent in the entrance gate, indicating a single shock wave.”

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