Evidence Points To US Drone Strike Targeting Civilians And Children
AFGHANISTAN - An investigation carried out by the New York Times says that there was no ISIS-K bomb being loaded into a vehicle that was being followed for hours by a US Reaper drone based on 'evidence' that it was loaded with explosives. The report also shows that the US drone strike killed 10 civilians, 7 of which were children.
Although the military called the last missile the United States fired in Afghanistan a 'righteous strike' thinking that the vehicle that was struck contained an ISIS bomb posing an 'imminent' threat to US troops at the Kabul international airport, interviews between reporters at the New York Times and over a dozen coworkers of the vehicles driver, along with family members say otherwise.
Officials in the United States Military had stated that although they had no idea who the man was and did not have a positive ID on him, his actions throughout the day seemed suspicious and that he 'possibly' paid a visit to an ISIS safe house and loaded what they thought were explosives into his car.
The New York Times identified the driver was one Zemari Ahmadi who worked for a long time for Nutrition and Education International, a Californian based group bringing aid to Afghanistan. On the morning that the airstrike happened, his boss called and requested that he pick up his laptop.
In an interview with his boss at the N.E.I. office in Kabul, Afghanistan the man who chose to remain anonymous according to the Times due to his 'association with an American company in Afghanistan' said, "I asked him if he was still at home, and he said yes".
Ahmadi then left the home that he lived at with three of his brothers and his brothers families to his job, using the 1996 Corolla that was owned by the Nutrition and Education International company that he worked for at around 9:00 a.m. according to relatives.
According to the Times, U.S. officials stated that was around the time that the white Sedan first began to be surveilled, after it left a 'compound identified as an alleged ISIS safe house about five kilometers northwest of the airport'.
Ahmadi made three stops and picked up two passengers, as well as the laptop on his way to work from the home of the N.E.I. director which was not far from where the rocket attack happened that ISIS-K claimed responsibility for carrying out against the airport from an 'improvised launcher concealed inside the trunk of a Toyota Corolla' according to the Times, which is a similar model to the vehicle used by Ahmadi.
A New York Times reporter went to visit the N.E.I. director at his home and met his family. They said that they've been living there for 40 years and that they 'have nothing to do with terrorism or ISIS'. The director, who the Times says currently has a U.S. resettlement case stated that they 'love America' and 'want to go there'.
The US Military's MQ-9 Reaper drone tracked the vehicle driven by Ahmadi throughout the day and said that they intercepted communications 'between the sedan and the alleged ISIS safe house' while it 'instructed it to make several stops'.
However, those that were in the vehicle with Ahmadi said that the military interpreted a 'normal day at work' as 'suspicious moves'. After Ahmadi and the two passengers stopped for breakfast, security footage that was given to the Times shows that they arrived at work at the N.E.I. office at 9:35 a.m.
Then, later in the morning Ahmadi drove co-workers to a police station occupied by the Taliban requesting to 'distribute food to refugees in a nearby park', after which Ahmadi and the three passengers that were with him returned back to the N.E.I. office at about 2:00 p.m.
Half an hour later camera footage shows Ahmadi coming out with a hose and filled 'several' plastic containers, which according to his co-workers were containers being filled with water, as water deliveries in his neighborhood had ceased after the Afghan government collapsed. and he was bringing water home from the office where he worked according to a guard who helped fill the containers. "I filled the containers myself, and helped him load them into the trunk" the guard said.
At 3:38 p.m. that guard and another co-worker moved the vehicle up into the driveway further, at which point the video footage ends due to the N.E.I. office shutting off its generator at the end of the work day at which point Ahmadi and three other passengers with him left to go home.
This is when U.S. officials say their drone tracked Ahmadi's location 12 kilometers southwest of the airport, which is a location that matches the N.E.I office. They said that they watched Ahmadi and the three other passengers with him load 'heavy packages' into their car that officials believed 'may contain' explosives.
The passengers however stated that the only thing they had with them during their travel was two laptops which they loaded into the vehicle and that their truck was empty except the plastic containers that they had filled with water earlier. Each person was interviewed separately and all of them said there were no explosives loaded into the vehicle.
One of the passengers who was a colleague of Ahmadi that rode with him to work regularly stated that the ride home was full of the 'usual laughter and banter' except this time Ahmadi kept the radio off out of fear of getting into trouble with the Taliban, who has banned music in the country. The colleague stated, "He liked happy music' but 'that day we couldn't play any in the car'.
After dropping off the three passengers Ahmadi headed for his home near the airport. One of the passengers said "I asked him to come in for a bit, but he said he was tired'. It was at this point that U.S. officials were 'convinced' that the vehicle Ahmadi was traveling in was an 'imminent threat' to troops at the Kabul airport.
As Ahmadi drove into his home's courtyard, which the Times says was different than the 'alleged ISIS safe house' the U.S. tactical commander decided to launch a Hellfire missile at the vehicle and eliminate it at around 4:50 p.m.
The strike was carried out in a densely populated area, but U.S. officials stated that they saw only a 'single adult male' and as such assessed with 'reasonable certainty' that there were no women, children or noncombatants within the vicinity of the blast zone.
Relatives of Ahmadi tell a different story however. They said that when Ahmadi drove into the courtyard several of his children and brothers children excitedly ran out to see him, got into the car and sad inside as he backed it up inside. His brother, Romal said that he heard the gate open and Ahmadi's car coming in. His cousin Naser had left to get water for 'ablutions' and came to greet him.
The sound of the still running engine could be heard, and that a 'sudden blast' and the room they were in was filled with flying glass from the window. Romal said that when he got to his feet he said "Where are the children" to his wife, who replied "They're outside".
Romal said that he ran into the courtyard where he said his Nephew Faysal, 16 years of age had fallen from the outside staircase 'grievously wounded' by shrapnel on his torso and head and wasn't breathing. He said he also saw another dead nephew before his neighbors came and pulled him away from the scene.
U.S. Military officials have justified the strike saying that there was a second blast that happened after the first one. U.S. General and Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley stated, "Because there were secondary explosions, there is a reasonable conclusion to be made that there was explosives in that vehicle".
The New York Times however did their own investigation at the scene of the missile strike and found absolutely no evidence of a secondary explosion at all. The Times also points out that experts who viewed the photos of the scene say that although there is clear evidence of an initial blast, there was 'no collapsed or brown-out walls', 'no destroyed vegetation' and 'only one dent in the entrance gate' which indicates that there was only a 'single shock wave'.
Christ Cobb-Smith, a British Army veteran and security consultant said, "It seriously questions the credibility of the intelligence or technology utilized to determine this was a legitimate target".
So far the United States Military has only admitted to there being three civilian casualties from the strike, but Ahmadi's family and relatives have stated that 10 members of their family were killed in the strike, including seven children.
Those that the family reported as being killed in the strike include Ahmadi and three of his children, Zamir: 20 years old, Faisal: 16 years old and Farzad: 10 years old as well as three of Romal's children: Arwin: 7 years old, Benvamin: 6 years old, Havat: 2 years old along with two three year old girls: Malika and Somaya
An Afghan health official, as well as neighbors all confirmed that bodies of children were taken from the scene and said that the blast 'shredded most of the victims' and Ahmadi's relatives showed photo's of burned bodies of children that were in the blast zone.
Ahmadi's family members say they wonder why Ahmadi would have any motivation to attack Americans when he had applied for refugee resettlement in the United States and said that his cousin Naser who is a former contractor for the U.S. military had also applied for resettlement so that he could marry his fiancee, Samia so that she could be 'included in the immigration case'.
Emal, Ahmadi's brother said "All of them were innocent. You say he was ISIS, but he worked for the Americans".