The Pentagon has publicly released 25 minutes of video footage of the August 29 U.S. drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, for which no one has been held accountable.
“The newly released videos show the view from above Kabul as the military tracked a white Toyota Corolla through parts of the city, believing that it was an ISIS-K car laden with explosives and building a case for targeting it with a preemptive strike,” CNN reported, adding, “In reality, the military was tracking Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan who worked for Nutrition and Education International, a nongovernmental organization focused on food security. Ahmadi had applied for a special immigrant visa and intended to bring his family to the United States.”
In the immediate aftermath of the strike, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley stated, “We had very good intelligence that ISIS-K was preparing a specific-type vehicle at a specific-type location. We monitored that through various means, and all of the engagement criteria were being met. We went through the same level of rigor that we’ve done for years.”
“We know from the variety of other means that at least one of those people that were killed was a ISIS facilitator,” he continued. “Were there others killed? Yes, there are others killed. Who they are, we don’t know. We’ll try to sort through all that. But we believe that the procedures at this point — I don’t want to influence the outcome of an investigation — but at this point we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike.”
The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed two officials to deal with any sanctions regarding the incident. Neither recommended action:
Mr. Austin left the final word on any administrative action, such as reprimands or demotions, to two senior commanders: Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, and Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the head of the Special Operations Command. Both officers found no grounds for penalizing any of the military personnel involved in the strike, said John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman.
Seven children were killed in the strike. The dead included Ahmadi, his three children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30; Ahmadi’s three nephews, Arwin, seven, Benyamin, six, and Hayat, two; and two three-year-old girls, Malika and Somaya.
A CENTCOM spokesman stated, “While the strike was intended for what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed are now believed to have been connected to ISIS-K or threats to our troops. We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike.”
“Last month, the Pentagon said that no punitive action would be taken against military personnel involved in the botched drone strike. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said senior commanders had made their recommendations to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – none of which included holding any officers accountable,” The Daily Mail noted. Kirby asserted, “What we saw here was a breakdown in process and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership.”