Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement late Friday that the United States will make “condolence payments” to families of Afghan civilians killed by mistake in U.S. drone strike on August 29. File photo courtesy the U.S. Department of Defense.
CNN reports that Pentagon press secretary John Kirby (above) said in a statement last week that a senior Pentagon official held a virtual meeting about a potential compensation payment for the family of Zamarai Ahmadi, an Afghan civilian who was one of 10 people killed in a US drone strike in late August. Ahmadi’s two year old niece, Malika, as well as her uncle, her seven cousins, and another child were killed in the strike.
The discussion with Steven Kwon (right), founder and head of Nutrition and Education International, the US non-profit charity that employed Ahmadi, focused on a compensation payment for his family and their desire to relocate to the United States. Kirby said no formal agreement has been reached at this stage.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, said that the strike was a tragic mistake and that Mr. Ahmadi and others who were killed were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to US forces.”
The Defense Department, which handles compensation payments through its regional combatant commands, has not been able to speak directly with Ahmadi’s family because there are no US troops in Afghanistan to lead the discussion.
Also complicating the conversation is the family’s desire to relocate to the United States, a decision handled by the State Department, not the Pentagon. At the end of September, Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would support the relocation of the family to the United States. Kahl reiterated that support during the meeting with Kwon.
Dr. Kwon told Mr. Ahmadi’s story of working with NEI over many years, providing care and lifesaving assistance for people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan. NEI’s Dr. Kwon’s pledge to honour the memory of Ahmadi (left) and his family members and others who were killed in the strike,” Kirby said.
Ahmadi was one of 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, killed in a drone strike during the final days of the US evacuation and withdrawal from Afghanistan. Initially, the Pentagon defended the strike, pointing to secondary explosions as proof that there was explosive material in Ahmadi’s car.
Nearly three weeks later, the leader of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, admitted that the strike was a “tragic mistake” following an investigation into the facts and circumstances around the strike, led by Lt. Gen. Sami Said, Inspector General of the Department of the Air Force.
This is just one of hundreds of tragic ‘mistakes’ – usually downplayed or denied.
What can justify such losses of human life?