The Pentagon, on Friday, Sept. 17, admitted that the Kabul strike that was supposed to target a member of terrorist group ISIS-K had wrongfully struck Afghanistan citizens instead.
“The strike was a tragic mistake,” said Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command at a Friday news conference, per ABC News.
Earlier assertions insisted that the strike was “righteous” as it had killed a potential ISIS-K bomber and destroyed his vehicle, which was suspected to be carrying explosives.
In total, 11 people were killed, including seven children and the suspected man. He was an innocent aid worker named Zemari Ahmadi, ABC News reported.
“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces,” McKenzie admitted.
Before the strike, U.S. intelligence had learned that the Islamic State group would use a white Toyota Corolla to conduct a bombing attack. So the U.S. had tracked the vehicle for eight hours and took it out with a hellfire missile within a couple of miles of Kabul Airport.
“Clearly our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota Corolla,” McKenzie said.
Accounts from families and colleagues of Ahmadi unveiled that at the time he was struck, he had just picked his 11-year-old son up from his house and was still in his driveway.
The drone attack killed both him and his son, the other children nearby who were watching them leave. An adult son and nephew of Ahmadi also perished after the strike.
Ahmadi used to work for America and was trying to get his family out of the country for fear of Taliban reprisals.
While on his trip to Europe, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the wrongful assessment that led to the strike, expressing condolences.
“This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart wrenching. We are committed to being fully transparent about this incident,” Milley said.
According to CBS News, after McKenzie’s confirmation, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin apologized for the wrongful strike with a call for an investigation.
“I have asked for this review to consider the degree to which the investigation considered all available context and information, the degree to which accountability measures need to be taken and at what level, and the degree to which strike authorities, procedures, and processes need to be altered in the future,” he said.