The U.S. government’s account of a drone strike launched against a suspected terrorist in Afghanistan toward the end of the military withdrawal from Kabul is being challenged by a report suggesting the victim was not a threat to the United States.
According to a New York Times report, the drone attack that American officials said killed an ISIS terrorist carrying a bomb in a car toward U.S. troops may have killed a man with no ties to ISIS and who was carrying water to family members.
Camera footage shows the driver filled plastic containers with a water hose in his car’s trunk. The driver, identified as Zemari Ahmadi, worked as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International, a U.S. aid company headquartered in California. “We have nothing to do with terrorism or ISIS,” said NEA’s country director, who professed a love for the United States.
According to his relatives, Ahmadi was driving a white 1996 Corolla the same day U.S. officials said military surveillance detected a white sedan leaving a compound identified as an alleged ISIS safe house a few miles from the Kabul airport.
While U.S. officials told the outlet they picked up suspicious communications between the vehicle and the alleged ISIS safe house, Ahmadi’s colleagues told the news outlet he was driving co-workers who were delivering food and picking up a laptop for his boss.
Ahmadi drove home with three passengers to drop them off. “He liked happy music,” one colleague said. “That day, we couldn’t play any in the car” for fear of attracting unwanted attention from the Taliban. The passengers said only two laptops and the water jugs were in the car, denying there were any explosives in the car.
The U.S. previously admitted that there were three civilian casualties in the strike, but the Times report says the actual number is 10. Seven of those individuals were children, including young family members of Ahmadi who relatives say had run to the car to greet him when he got home moments before the strike.
Two well-placed U.S. military sources tell Fox News that the U.S. Central Command remains confident that the strike was based on accurate intelligence that showed the person in the car had bad intent, and that an investigation is underway into how many civilians were killed.