The U.S. military mistakenly killed an Afghan aid worker and nine members of his family, including seven children, during an August 29 drone strike on a purported ISIS-K terrorist.
The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the U.S. killed 10 civilians while carrying out a strike on a target that U.S. intelligence officials believed to be an ISIS-K target. The strike was in retaliation for an earlier terror attack that killed 13 U.S. service members as well as dozens of Afghan civilians.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command, acknowledged the “tragic mistake” on Thursday but said that the U.S. strike team had “reasonable certainty” that the target represented an “imminent threat” to U.S. forces.
“Our investigation now concludes that our strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie did not say whether anyone would be held accountable for the mistake, saying that the military’s investigation into the strike was still ongoing.
The U.S. Central Command’s investigation into the drone strike confirms earlier reports that the U.S. mistakenly killed an Afghan aid worker and his family while hitting what U.S. officials believed to be an ISIS target. Last week, The New York Times identified the man targeted as Zemari Ahmadi. As the Times reported:
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.
The results of the military’s investigation comes days of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared on Capitol Hill to testify on the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that left potentially hundreds of Americans behind and thousands of the United States’ Afghan allies. Blinken faced questions over the strike from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), though Blinken was unable to provide any answers at the time. As The Daily Wire reported:
“The guy the Biden administration droned, was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Paul asked.
Blinken responded, “the administration is of course reviewing that strike and I’m sure a full assessment will be forthcoming.”
“So you don’t know if it was an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Paul pressed.
Blinken said, “I can’t speak to that and I can’t speak to that in this setting in any event.”
Paul added, “so you don’t know or won’t tell us.”
“I don’t know because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken answered.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 28 will he will likely be pressed by senators on the military’s failure and killing of the aid worker and his family.