Afghanistan: US military releases videos of drone attack in Kabul that killed 10 civilians

Newly released videos show the view from above of Kabul as the army followed a white Toyota Corolla through parts of the city, believing it to be an ISIS-K car loaded with explosives and building a case to target her with a preemptive strike.

The Pentagon initially defended the strike, saying it killed an ISIS operative planning an imminent attack on US forces during the final days of the evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just three days earlier, an Islamic State suicide bomber had killed 13 US servicemen and dozens of Afghans at Abbey Gate, the airport’s key entry point.

With continued threats of another attack, the US strike cell believed it was stalking an ISIS operative from a terrorist hideout as he fought his way through the city in eight hours.

In reality, the army was tracking down Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan who worked for Nutrition and Education International, a non-governmental organization focused on food security. Ahmadi had applied for a special immigrant visa and intended to bring his family to the United States.
About three weeks after the strike, the military acknowledged it was a tragic mistake that killed 10 innocent civilians. A subsequent Air Force review of the circumstances surrounding the strike found “no violation of law, including the laws of war.”
No one was held accountable for the mistake, even though Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promised to focus more on keeping the military at a higher level to avoid civilian casualties and damage.

Steven Kwon, the president of Nutrition and Education International, criticized the decision not to punish any US military, saying: “When the Pentagon absolves itself of responsibility, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified. , increasing security risks. and making evacuation even more urgent.”

In the longest of the three videos, the car is seen making its way through the streets of Kabul in grainy black and white footage. About five minutes into the 15-minute video, the car reaches its final destination and slowly begins to back into a parking spot.

Seven minutes and seven seconds into the video, the words “LRD LASE DES” appear, indicating that a laser designator has identified and moved the target away. At least two or three people are seen in the grainy video that revolves around the car. Thirty-three seconds later, the car disappears under a bright ball of fire.

The drone video zooms out as the explosion recedes, smoke billowing from the destroyed car. The drone continues to circle overhead as people move towards the site of the explosion. About three minutes later, the video changes from black and white to color, and crowds can be seen forming around the site of the explosion. People stand on rooftops, trying to pour buckets of water over the remains of the car to put out the flames.

“While the strike was aimed at what was believed to be an imminent threat to our troops at Hamad Karzai International Airport, none of the family members killed now appear to have been linked to ISIS or threatened our troops,” Capt Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command, said when the videos were released. “We deeply regret the loss of life that resulted from this strike.”

US Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East, released the videos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the New York Times, which first reported on them.

A second video, five minutes long, shows the Corolla in full color and higher quality in the minutes before and after the strike, although the car disappears behind a building for part of the video. The video switches to black and white about halfway through when a white diamond marker appears above the car. The marker turns purple a few seconds before the missile hits the car and an explosion fills the screen. The video then reverts to color, and soon after, crowds begin to form at the scene. The video then moves away from the explosion.

A third video, also around five minutes long, shows a drone observing a number of locations in Kabul before focusing on a parking lot with a number of parked white cars.

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