Pentagon releases footage of botched drone strike that killed Afghan aid worker, family

Amid President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan last summer, the Pentagon conducted a drone strike against a purported terrorist target — but it was later revealed that the strike had actually hit the family of an Afghan ally working on behalf of a U.S. nonprofit.

It took weeks for the Pentagon to admit its fatal mistake, though no one ever faced consequences. Now, several months later, the military is finally releasing video evidence of the botched strike, The Daily Wire reports.

A case of mistaken identity

The strike occurred Aug. 29 in retaliation for the terrorist bombing outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan that left 13 U.S. service members and many Afghan civilians dead, and scores more wounded.

At the time of the strike, Pentagon officials claimed the targeted vehicle was packed with explosives and driven by a member of the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State who was intent on attacking the airport again.

Even after it was revealed days later that innocent civilians had been killed by the drone-fired missile, The Hill reported at the time that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley had defended the strike, insisting that a terrorist had been targeted, the car was full of explosives, all proper procedures were followed, and the entire thing was a “righteous strike.”

But as Axios later revealed, the driver of the car was an Afghan aid worker whose car was full of bottled water. The 10 individuals killed in the strike included the aid worker as well as two of his adult siblings and seven of their innocent children. All were outside the home they shared at the time of the strike.

Drone footage finally released

One report cited by The Daily Wire revealed that footage of the strike was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from The New York Times — the same media outlet that first investigated the late-August incident and revealed that innocent civilians (not murderous terrorists primed for an attack) had been killed.

Three videos comprising approximately 25 total minutes of drone footage were released, the report cited by The Daily Wire said, providing a bird’s-eye view of the white Toyota Corrolla targeted by military operatives as it drove around Kabul for several hours.

The Pentagon reportedly thought at the time that it was an explosives-laden vehicle that would eventually detonate near the Kabul airport. In actuality, it wasn’t a terrorist behind the wheel, reports said, but Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan working for the U.S.-based Nutrition and Education International (NEI) who had applied for a special immigrant visa in hopes of coming to America.

“Dangerous and misleading”

Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesperson for U.S. Central Command, released a statement following the release of the footage. “While the strike was intended for what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed are now believed to have been connected to ISIS-K or threats to our troops,” he said, according to The Daily Wire. “We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike.”

Still, others are frustrated by the lack of accountability. Back in December, Steven Kwon, the founder and president of NEI, said in a statement that it’s “shocking” no one is being held responsible for the botched strike.

“How can our military wrongly take the lives of ten precious Afghan people, and hold no one accountable in any way?” Kwon said, according to CNBC. “When the Pentagon absolves itself of accountability, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified, increasing security risks and making evacuation even more urgent.”

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