Blinken admitted that he does not know whether the Kabul drone attack on Aug. 29 killed a terrorist or humanitarian worker.
The use of drones by the U.S. military against targets in other countries has come under scrutiny again following a deadly strike that it carried out recently in Kabul, Afghanistan, which was alleged to have wrongly killed civilians there.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, acknowledged that he is not sure whether the Aug. 29 drone strike hit aN ISIS-K terrorist, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of the Islamic State, or a long-time employee of a U.S. aid group.
Over the past several days, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN published investigations suggesting that U.S. armed forces might have mistaken Zamarai Ahmadi, a 43-year-old electrical engineer, for a suicide car bomber.
The U.S. Central Command previously said the Aug. 29 drone strike had taken out a vehicle in Kabul and eliminated an "imminent" threat to the Kabul airport, where evacuations of U.S. service members and personnel were underway.
It also said "significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material." Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, called it a "righteous strike" with procedures correctly followed.
But media investigations have undercut the official account. After conducting interviews with Ahmadi's relatives and explosive experts, along with the examination of the scene of the strike by their reporters, the outlets said there was no evidence of a secondary explosion and that what Ahmadi was loading into his car that day were not explosives but water canisters.
The NYT exposé of the last Biden drone strike in Afghanistan is superb journalism, proved Biden and his senior military officials lied repeatedly, and shouldn't be forgotten because of yesterday.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 12, 2021
Most of the US's post-9/11 actions were like this: we just usually didn't see it: https://t.co/Tacm9nsbhJ
A Hellfire missile, a precision air-to-ground, subsonic weapon with anti-tank capacity, landed on the courtyard of Ahmadi's home, destroying his white sedan while killing him, two other male adults, and seven children.
The Central Command is still assessing the aftermath of the drone strike in retaliation for earlier ISIS-K attacks that killed more than 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members at the Kabul airport amid the chaotic and bungled military withdrawal. The spokesperson also promised the Pentagon will be "as transparent about the outcomes as we can."
An analysis published by the civilian harm monitoring group Airwars this month showed U.S. drone and airstrikes have killed at least 22,000 civilians -- and potentially as many as more than 48,000 -- since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.