Timeline based on Evan Hill’s reporting. Some facts and videos are the NYTimes article. NYT: The drone strike that the military said took out a potential ISIS car bomber right before we departed Afghanistan likely hit a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group who was bringing people to and from work. We literally used Taliban-provided Intel to target a USAID worker and his family in retaliation for the suicide bombing at the airport. Now we know why Milley refused to name the “ISIS facilitators”–it was a US Ally.
The final act of the U.S. war in Afghanistan was a drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 people. The man the military saw as an “imminent threat” and “ISIS facilitator” was actually an aid worker returning to his family.
The military said it believed Zemari Ahmadi’s white Toyota Corolla, which it tracked by drone for eight hours that day, was packed with explosives. Security camera video we obtained showed him loading it with water containers for his home. I’ll detail our findings in this thread.
Ahmadi was a 14-year employee of Nutrition & Education International, a U.S. NGO that fights malnutrition. He helped start up soy factories, repair machinery, transport his colleagues and distribute food from his Corolla to displaced Afghans.
Aug. 29, according to his family and colleagues, was a normal day for Ahmadi. He left home around 9am, picked up 2 colleagues and his boss’s laptop, stopped for breakfast, and headed to the office in the Karte Seh neighborhood.
At around the time, Ahmadi was picking up his colleagues, the U.S. military said it observed a white sedan emerge from an Islamic State safe house near Ahmadi’s home, 5km northwest of the airport. Intercepted communications from the safehouse gave the sedan instructions, they said.
At 3:38 pm, a colleague drives Ahmadi’s car farther into the office driveway. At roughly the same time, the military said, the drone team saw Ahmadi’s car pull into an “unknown compound” 8 to 12 kilometers southwest of the airport.
The location of the “unknown compound” overlaps with the location of the NGO’s office, and the military told us that they only saw the white sedan at one location that afternoon. We believe that what the military called an unknown compound was in fact the NGO’s office.
With the workday ending, an employee switches off the office generator, and the camera goes dark. The military said it now saw four men load wrapped packages into the car. Ahmadi’s colleagues said they were stowing laptop bags, which the footage shows earlier in the day.
Ahmadi drops his colleagues off and turns onto his street. His and his brothers’ children surround the car, his relatives said. The family has a habit of letting kids steer the car into the courtyard of their home. Somehow, the military said, the drone team sees none of this.
The drone team hasn’t been watching Ahmadi’s home at all. They quickly scan the courtyard, an official told us, and see only an adult male talking to the driver. Fearing the car, which they believe has explosives, will soon head to the airport, they fire.
The decision to strike does not flow down the typical chain of command. Because of the chaos of the Kabul airport evacuation, an official told us, President Biden and the military have delegated the authority to approve airstrikes to lower-level commanders. An MQ-9 Reaper drone fires one 20lb Hellfire missile at the car. The military says that the strike sets off large secondary explosions, suggesting the presence of a significant amount of explosives.
There is one other detail visible in the wreckage: destroyed plastic containers, identical to the ones that we saw Ahmadi and his colleague fill with water and load into his trunk before heading home. The military told us they never saw them being loaded.
While the U.S. military has so far acknowledged only three civilian casualties, Mr. Ahmadi’s relatives said that 10 members of their family, including seven children, were killed in the strike: Mr. Ahmadi and three of his children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Mr. Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30; three of Romal’s children, Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2; and two 3-year-old girls, Malika and Somaya.