Americans were outraged last month after a suicide attack said to have been perpetrated by ISIS-K bombers killed 13 U.S. service personnel guarding the airport in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul. The attack came as U.S. forces were evacuating Americans and finalizing their withdrawal from the country.
In response to the attack, the U.S. initiated a drone strike that the Biden administration initially said had killed several members of the terror group. But after reports suggested otherwise, the Pentagon was forced to admit the truth.
According to Breitbart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged on Friday that instead of taking out ISIS-K operatives, the strike in Kabul had actually killed 10 civilians, including more than half a dozen children.
Also killed was Zemerai Ahmadi, the driver of a vehicle targeted in the strike who turned out to have been a “longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization,” NPR reported.
Austin apologizes for “horrible mistake”
“The investigation concluded that the strike — conducted to prevent what was believed to be an imminent threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport — resulted in the deaths of as many as 10 people, including up to seven children,” the defense secretary said in a statement, according to Breitbart.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer,” he added.
Austin also said the Pentagon has confirmed “there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan” and “that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced.”
“Mr. Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed,” Austin admitted before apologizing for “this horrible mistake” and pledging that his department would “endeavor to learn from” what had happened.
“The morning of the strike”
Ahmadi’s death was first scrutinized by The New York Times, who found the 43-year-old “worked as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International, a California-based aid group.”
“The morning of the strike, his boss called from the office around 8:45 a.m. and asked him to pick up his laptop,” the Times reported. “Evidence suggests that his travels that day involved transporting colleagues to and from work.”
While the military had asserted that Ahmadi had been spotted loading explosives into his vehicle, video footage shows him picking up water containers instead.
In any case, the tragic mistake by U.S. officials won’t be quickly forgotten by Americans or Afghans whose family members were killed in the drone strike. But will we ever see any accountability in the Biden White House? I wouldn’t hold my breath.