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US Adaptation of the Kabul Drone Strike has Questioned

September 13, 2021

The New York Times and The Washington Post, two major US newspapers, are questioning the US military’s claim that a drone strike in Kabul on August 29 destroyed a car driven by an ISIS-K sympathizer. The US Central Command claimed shortly after the strike that the car comprised explosive materials bound for Kabul’s airport. According to the statement, “significant secondary explosions from the vehicle showed the presence of a significant amount of explosive material.”

In a press conference on September 1, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley described the strike as a “righteous strike” that followed proper procedures. The Times and Post reported this weekend that their investigations found no evidence of explosives in the car, which they said was driven by 43-year-old Zemari Ahmadi, an engineer working for the US aid group Nutrition and Education International (NEI). According to family members, Mr. Ahmadi, who had applied for refugee resettlement in the US, was carrying water to family members when the drone hit his car.

The military’s claim of “secondary explosions” in the courtyard was also questioned by the Times and Post. There was no evidence of a second explosion at the scene, according to Times reporters. There were no collapsed walls or destroyed vegetation, according to experts. According to security consultant Chris Cobb-Smith, “it seriously calls into question the credibility of the intelligence or technology used to determine this was a legitimate target.” According to explosives experts, the majority of the damage was caused by the drone’s Hellfire missile. According to two experts, if there was a secondary explosion, it was most likely caused by combusted fuel vapors.

The white sedan belonged to Nutrition and Education International, according to Steven Kwon, president of the California-based organization. Mr. Ahmadi spent the rest of the day running everyday jobs after meeting at the NEI compound to discuss an emergency food aid program for displaced people, according to Mr. Kwon. He denied any connection between NEI and ISIS-K.

“We’re attempting to assist people,” he told the Post. “Why would we have explosives if we weren’t going to kill people?”

”The Times said it has doubts about the US version of events after reviewing video evidence and interviewing more than a dozen of the driver’s friends and family members in Kabul. According to the report, “the driver has been identified as Zemari Ahmadi, a long-time worker for a US aid group.” “The evidence suggests that his travels that day were actually for the purpose of transporting colleagues to and from work. According to an analysis of video feeds, what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading water canisters into his trunk to bring home to his family.”

The US previously admitted that three civilians were killed in the strike, but the Times reported that the true number was ten. Seven of those people were children, including Mr. Ahmadi’s young family members, who relatives said ran to the car to greet him when he arrived home moments before the strike.

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