President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has generally been described as a chaotic disaster — and a new report adds a troubling aspect to the developing narrative.
The Biden administration asserted that a terrorist was killed to stop an “imminent” attack with a drone strike on a vehicle in Kabul. Investigators subsequently reported, however, that the target was a U.S.-allied aid worker and the strike killed 10 innocent people, including seven children.
“An imminent ISIS-K threat”
Such reporting clearly runs contrary to the official government claims, prompting speculation that the White House violated international law with the targeted drone strikes.
Existing rules essentially demand that the target of such a strike be positively identified as an enemy combatant, that the target must pose an imminent or ongoing threat, and that all efforts are made to minimize civilian or non-combatant casualties.
The drone strike in question occurred in the aftermath of a terror attack outside the Kabul international airport that left 13 U.S. service members dead.
U.S. military officials declared that the drone strike was a preemptive act of “self-defense” against “an imminent ISIS-K threat.”
That narrative was evident in a Pentagon briefing by Maj. Gen. William Taylor, who cited “significant secondary explosions” as evidence of “a substantial amount of explosive material” in the targeted vehicle. Although he acknowledged initial reports showed civilian casualties, he said an “assessment” of the strike remained ongoing.
New evidence emerges
Both Taylor and Pentagon spokesman John Kirby expressed confidence in the military’s prior intelligence and post-strike analysis regarding the targeted vehicle.
A subsequent report from The New York Times, however, contradicts the Pentagon’s claims that the vehicle was packed with explosives, that its driver was linked to the Islamic State, and that the strike kept civilian casualties to a minimum.
Citing video surveillance footage the outlet received as well as dozens of interviews, the report tells a heartbreaking story of U.S.-allied Afghan aid worker Zemari Ahmadi, whose vehicle was packed with canisters of water for his family.
The strike is believed to have killed Ahmadi along with several members of his family and other children ranging in age from 2 to 16.
If the allegations in this report are true, it could become another in a string of failures associated with Biden’s botched Afghanistan troop pullout. It remains to be seen whether the administration will face any measure of accountability.