Afghan survivors of errant US drone strike seek probe

Sep 18, 2021, 7:06 AM | Updated: 5:30 pm

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A survivor of an errant U.S. drone strike that killed 10 members of his family demanded Saturday that those responsible be punished and said Washington’s apology was not enough.

The family also seeks financial compensation and relocation to the United States or another country deemed safe, said Emal Ahmadi, whose 3-year-old daughter Malika was among those killed in the Aug. 29 strike.

On that day, a U.S. hellfire missile struck the car that Ahmadi’s brother Zemerai had just pulled into the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound as children ran to greet him. In all, 10 members of the family, including seven children, were killed in the strike.

On Friday, U.S. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, called the strike a “tragic mistake” and said that innocent civilians were indeed killed in the attack.

The U.S. military initially defended the strike, saying it had targeted an Islamic State group’s “facilitator” and disrupted the militants’ ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final stage of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan late last month.

Discrepancies between the military’s portrayal of the strike and findings on the ground quickly emerged. The Associated Press and other news organizations reported that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at a U.S. humanitarian organization. There were no signs of a large secondary blast, despite the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.

The drone strike followed a devastating suicide bombing by IS — a rival of the Taliban — that killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. military personnel at one of the gates to the Kabul airport in late August. At that time, large numbers of Afghans, desperate to flee the Taliban, had crowded the airport gates in hopes of getting on to evacuation flights.

McKenzie apologized for the error and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims.

Emal Ahmadi told the AP on Saturday that he wants the U.S. to investigate who fired the drone and punish those responsible.

“That is not enough for us to say sorry,” said Ahmadi who heard of the U.S. apology from friends in America. “The U.S.A. should find the person who did this.”

Ahmadi said he was relieved that an apology was offered and the family members he lost were recognized as innocent victims, but that this won’t bring them back. He said that he was frustrated that the family never received a call from U.S. officials, despite repeated requests.

He looked exhausted as he sat in front of the charred ruins of his brother’s car.

In the days before the Pentagon’s apology, accounts from the family, documents from colleagues seen by the AP and the scene at the family home — where Zemerai’s car was struck by the missile — all sharply contradicted the accounts by the U.S. military.

Instead, they painted the picture of a family that had worked for Americans and were trying to gain visas to the U.S., fearing for their lives under the Taliban.

Zemerai Ahmadi was the family’s breadwinner and had looked after his three brothers, including Emal, and their children.

“Now I am then one who is responsible for all my family and I am jobless,” said Emal Ahmadi. The situation “is not good,” said Ahmadi of life under the Taliban.

International aid groups and the United Nations have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis that could drive most Afghans below the poverty level.

McKenzie said the decision to strike a white Toyota Corolla sedan, after having tracked it for about eight hours, was made in an “earnest belief” — based on a standard of “reasonable certainty” — that it posed an imminent threat to American forces at the Kabul airport. The car was believed to have been carrying explosives in its trunk, he said.

But Ahmadi wondered how the family’s home could have been mistaken for an Islamic State hideout.

“The U.S.A. can see from everywhere,” he said of U.S. drone capabilities. “They can see that there were innocent children near the car and in the car. Whoever did this should be punished.”

“It isn’t right,” he added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Did Trump break the law? FBI search raises fresh questions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The year was 2016, the presidential candidate under investigation was Hillary Clinton and the FBI director at the time, James Comey, laid out the factors the Justice Department weighs in deciding whether to charge someone with mishandling classified records. Fast forward to 2022 and that tutorial proves instructive as another candidate from […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Salon shooting suspect indicted for anti-Asian hate crime

DALLAS (AP) — A man accused of shooting three Asian American women at a hair salon was indicted Tuesday on multiple counts, including committing a hate crime. The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced the indictment Tuesday of Jeremy Terrence Smith, 37, for the May 11 shooting at a salon in Dallas’ Koreatown. It alleges […]
15 hours ago
A client shops for chicken at a market in Mexico City, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Mexico's annual infla...
Associated Press

As Mexico’s inflation hits 8.15%, families cut back

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s annualized inflation rate hit 8.15% in July, the highest in almost two two decades, the national statistics institute announced Tuesday. But inflation in prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages is even higher, with prices rising 14.5% over the last 12 months. Many Mexican families are feeling the pinch, and going […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-school director gets home detention in college scam

BOSTON (AP) — A former director of private California school was sentenced Tuesday to three months of home confinement for his role in the sprawling college admissions bribery scheme. Igor Dvorskiy, who was director of West Hollywood College Preparatory School, was ordered to serve one year of supervised release — including the three months of […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

DNA leads to arrest of Hawaii man in 1982 California killing

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) — A Hawaii man has been arrested after DNA technology helped investigators identify him as a suspect in the 1992 slaying of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted in Northern California from a bus stop, raped and killed, authorities said. Karen Stitt was waiting for a bus in Sunnyvale when she disappeared […]
15 hours ago
Security moves in a golf cart at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Tuesday, Aug. 9...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: How does the FBI get a warrant to search a home?

News that FBI agents descended on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and searched it have spawned accusations of a politicized law enforcement organization doing the bidding of the Biden administration in targeting political enemies. The reality is that the process of obtaining a search warrant is a controlled by a checklist of requirements before […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Afghan survivors of errant US drone strike seek probe