Since the US carried out a drone strike in Kabul on Sunday that witnesses say killed 10 civilians, the Pentagon and the White House have defended the bombing, claiming it targeted ISIS-K. But relatives of the victims strongly deny that any of them were affiliated with ISIS and want answers from Washington.
“They have to give us answers. Is our blood so worthless, we don’t even get an explanation?” Ramal Ahmadi, a brother of one of the dead, told The Associated Press. Ahmadi said a missile hit his brother’s car as he pulled up the family’s home and children ran out to greet him.
The US claims the car was laden with explosives and a secondary blast is why there is such a high civilian casualty rate. But Ahmadi and other witnesses dispute Washington’s claim.
Emal, another Ahmadi brother, told AP that if the car was full of explosives, the blast would have done much more damage and pointed to two undamaged gas cylinders. “If the car was filled with explosives like the Americans say, why didn’t these cylinders explode,” he said. “How could the wall still be standing if this car had been full of explosives?”
Every person killed by the strike was related to Ahmadi’s. Emal lost a three-year-old daughter to the US drone and asked how the Americans could not see they were bombing a yard full of children. “They have such high technology they can see an ant on the ground, but they couldn’t see a yard full of children?” he said.
Some of the Ahmadis have worked for the US-backed Afghan security forces and US-based NGOs in Afghanistan, including the oldest brother Zamarai and a nephew Nasir Haideri, who were killed in the strike. Nasir and Zamarai both applied for Special Immigration Visas to evacuate to the US.
The slaughter of the Ahmadi family is not an anomaly for US drone strikes. In 2015, documents leaked by Daniel Hale, who was recently sentenced to 45 months in prison, revealed that during a five-month period between 2012 and 2013, 90 percent of the people killed by US drones were civilians.
While Hale’s leaks were published over five years ago, US drone strikes still regularly kill civilians, and there is virtually no oversight. The slaughter of the Ahmadi’s has received wide media coverage because it happened in Kabul as the US was exiting Afghanistan. But US drone strikes are often carried out in remote villages, where there are no reporters.
After the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, the US launched a drone strike in a remote area of the Nangarhar province. The Pentagon claims the strike killed two “ISIS-K planners,” but their names or any other details have not been released.
While the US has no more troops in Afghanistan, drone strikes could continue. During a speech after the withdrawal was completed, President Biden threatened more airstrikes against ISIS-K.
“We have what’s called over the horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground, or very few if needed. We’ve shown that capacity just in the last week. We struck ISIS-K remotely,” Biden said, describing the strike that killed the Ahmadis. “And to ISIS-K, we are not done with you yet.”