Investigation finds final US drone strike targeted aid worker

A video analysis by New York Times shows the United States may have ‘mistakenly’ targeted an aid worker rather than ISIL (ISIS) fighters in its final drone attack in Afghanistan that killed 10 civilians including children.

The Pentagon has said it disrupted a new attack planned by the armed group through a Reaper drone attack on August 29 – the day before US troops ended their 20-year mission and following a devastating attack outside the airport where vast crowds rushed to flee after Taliban takeover.

Kabul resident Aimal Ahmadi lost his family in the attack, including his small daughter, nephews, nieces and his brother Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was driving the car that was struck after he parked.

The New York Times, analysing security camera footage, said the US military may have been seeing the slain Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water that he used to distribute water to neighbours due to short supply after the collapse of the Western-backed government.

Ezmarai Ahmadi was an electrical engineer for the California-based aid and lobbying group Nutrition and Education International and was among thousands of Afghans who had applied for resettlement in the US, relatives said.

US officials say a more powerful blast took place after the drone attack, showing there were explosives in the vehicle.

But The New York Times investigation said there was no evidence of a second explosion, with only one dent on a nearby gate and no clear signs of an additional blast such as blown-out walls.

“We shared that evidence with three experts. All three agreed that the damage was consistent with a single Hellfire strike, and not large secondary explosions,” Evan Hills, from NYT visual investigation tweeted with security footages.

Commenting on the report, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US Central Command “continues to assess” the raid but “no other military works harder than we do to prevent civilian casualties”.

More than 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have died directly from the war launched by the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with casualties rising dramatically after then-President Donald Trump relaxed rules of engagement in 2017, according to a Brown University study in April.

The New York Times noted a rocket attack the following morning, claimed by ISIL, was carried out from a Toyota Corolla similar to Ahmadi’s.