Pentagon Admits to Accidentally Killing Civilians, Not Terrorists, in Kabul Drone Strike

Seven children were among the 10 killed.


The Pentagon today admitted what independent analysis has already concluded: A drone strike at the end of August that was meant to target Islamic State terrorists instead hit and killed 10 civilians, seven of whom were children.

On August 29, U.S. Central Command announced the military had used a drone to kill an ISIS terrorist who was plotting an attack on Kabul International Airport, just days after a previous bombing killed 13 U.S. troops and at least 170 Afghans.

But after the announcement, it appeared that the drone strike had instead killed an aid worker assisting a California-based nonprofit that helped feed refugees, along with several of his family members. At the time, military officials insisted that the hit was a "righteous strike" and that the vehicle was carrying explosives for a possible attack.

Further investigation showed that the car was probably carrying water, not bombs, and the aid worker, Zamari Ahmadi, was not, in fact, connected to the Islamic State.

Today the Pentagon acknowledged that the intelligence that led to the strike was wrong and that it had killed a group of civilians. From The New York Times:

"I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed," Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of United States Central Command, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference Friday. He said the U.S. was "exploring the possibility of ex gratia payments" to compensate the families of the victims.

The general said the strike was taken "in the profound belief" that ISIS was about to attack Kabul's airport, as the organization had done three days before, killing more than 140 people, including 13 American service members.

McKenzie even went so far as to credit the Times for some of its independent review of the attack. Reporters looked over surveillance footage and recreated Ahmadi's final workday, showing that his travels through Kabul all had reasonable explanations and that he was not organizing for an attack. The Times also suggested that at some point the officials surveilling potential terrorists might have mixed up Ahmadi's vehicle with a similar car that was used the next day to attempt a rocket attack on the airport.

Not only was this an indictment of the poor intelligence being used to plan for drone strikes, but it was also telling how loose those in charge were with allowing for a drone strike. There was never a point where the people who cleared the strike had any actual evidence that Ahmadi had explosives in his vehicle. The strike was justified on the basis of the suspicion of what he might have had.

Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) rightfully grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday that the Pentagon didn't actually know who it had struck and needed to investigate after the fact to figure it out.

"You'd think you'd kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone, whether he's an aid worker or he's an ISIS-K operative," Paul said. You'd think so, but that the Pentagon didn't know goes a long way in explaining the hundreds of civilians who have ended up dead from these strikes.

Representatives from Amnesty International called for a full review and criminal responsibility for those involved, as well as an end to the use of drone strikes outside of areas of armed conflict.

"The U.S. must now commit to a full, transparent, and impartial investigation into this incident," said Amnesty International adviser Brian Castner in a prepared statement. "Anyone suspected of criminal responsibility should be prosecuted in a fair trial. Survivors and families of the victims should be kept informed of the progress of the investigation and be given full reparation."

NEXT: Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board Will Ration Booze Sales Because It Won't Admit That Prices Work

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. *Children. Fixed that for you.

    1. This admin puts kids under bridges, kids in cages and drones the shit out of them. No mean tweets though.

      1. With humility.

        1. Well deserved humility.

          1. Start making money this time… Spend more time with your family & relatives by doing jobs that only require you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. HE Start bringing up to $65,000 to $70,000 a month. I’ve started this job and earn a handsome income and now I am exchanging it with you, so you can do it too.

            Here is I started.…………… VISIT HERE

      2. You forgot sniffs their hair too.

        1. I am making a good salary online from home.I’ve made 97,999 dollar’s so for last 5 months working online and I’m a full time student.FEw I’m using an online business opportunity I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

          For more detail ……………. VISIT HERE

        2. Is burning hair more exciting?

          1. Searching for a supplemental source of income? This is the easiest way I have found to earn $5000+ per week over the internet. Work for a few hours per week in your free time and get paid on a regular basis.GFd Only reliable internet connection and computer needed to get started…

            Start today………………… IncomeOpportunities

      3. Wrong within normal parameters.

        1. I made over $700 per day using my mobile in part time. I recently got my 5th paycheck of $19632 and all i was doing is to copy and paste work online. this home work makes me able to generate more cash daily easily.ADf simple to do work and regular income from this are just superb. Here what i am doing.

          Try now………….. Pays24

    2. Good catch.

      1. Find USA Online Jobs (800$-95000$ Weekly) safe and secure! Easy Acces To Information. Simple in use. All the Answers. Multiple sources combined.FEc Fast and trusted. Discover us now! Easy & Fast, 99% Match. ..

        Here………… Pays24

    3. “Clumps of cells”.

      1. Planned parenthood has gone to the next level!

    4. The initial story made the military look good, the truth made it look bad, so there was little incentive for the military to do what the media did, look at the evidence, even though much of it was in the hands of the military. This raises the possibility that such errors frequently go unreported. Given the nature of drone strikes, some mistakes will happen. How many cases have there been when the military spontaneously reported an error, prior to the media discovering it? If few, that is pretty good evidence.

      The British navy in the Napoleonic wars had bright line rules for captain and admirals. Any that surrendered faced a court marshall, as did any deemed to have avoided combat with an enemy of comparable strength. The defendant might be acquitted, but he also might be executed, as was one admiral for failing to pursue the enemy fleet after a battle. It seems odd, but there may be arguments in favor, when subtler mechanisms for enforcement are inadequate.

      I accordingly propose that, when it turns out that a drone strike has killed only innocent victims, the drone pilot should be charged with manslaughter and/or murder and tried. He and his superiors would have the option of arguing that the fault was someone else in the chain of authority. Of course, like any defendant, he could argue that he was innocent, that it was an entirely justifiable error. As it is, the worst the military risks by killing innocents is that, if it does get found out, it will get some bad publicity.

      Ideally I would like some similar arrangement for the PR person who gave the false report, requiring someone to be found responsible, but as far as I know lying to the public is not a crime.

  2. It is a war crime. Prosecute botcher Biden.
    PS, Fuck Joe Biden.


    2. The announcement said nobody would be disciplined for the strike and they stand behind their evidence… as they admitted to being completely wrong.

      1. behind their intelligence*

        1. Their intelligence is in their behind.

          1. “Their intelligence is in their behind.”

            It WAS in their behind. Now it’s been moved to the toilet, which is where it belonged in the first place.

            1. Biden and company are flush with stupidity.

      2. That is the whole problem, nobody in the high ranks are ever held accountable.

        1. This.
          America has a nobility problem, and it means its leaders don’t pay for their failures.

          1. Remember how bent out of shape people got when Trump would fire people? I didn’t always agree with his reasons, but most of the time people seemed more upset that he fired people than why he fired them. I don’t know at what point our political class became immune from being fired, but it is definitely detrimental to the country.

            1. And I study history pretty obsessively, and can usually be able to track historical trends, but this one I don’t rightly know. Was it the beginning of the progressive era at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the professional governmental worker? Because I don’t think it was necessarily. I almost want to blame Bush and 9/11, Bush never fired Rumsfield no matter how bad he fucked up in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Clinton was also reluctant to fire anyone even when given just cause. I think this trend started so subtly that it is difficult to pinpoint a genesis.

              1. Good points. We are plebs and the patrician class is infallible…..As long as you hold the right views.

        2. I am pretty sure you are ware this has been the way it has been, and it is wrong, for much of the time since WW2.

    3. Biden lied, and people died.
      All because he wanted to look like he was “doing something” to protect the evacuees.

    4. Extradite Biden to Afghanistan to stand trial.

  3. And nothing else happened.

    1. And nothing else will. Biden saved us from Orangeman and is embodying and doing everything I was told Orangeman was trying to do. From withholding medicine and aide to states he regards as political opponents to murder droning children.

  4. Yeah Obama and Biden are definitely murderers. No compassion, just executing drone strikes against whatever target they find.

    Those self righteous lefties liberaltarians and RINOs who voted for them have a lot to answer for, but they will admit no guilt.

    1. Clinton bombed what turned out to be a babymilk factory a week after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
      And Bush well, that idiot monster…

      1. The blame for all of these is on the CIA, not the presidents. Do you want them conducting the intelligence themselves?

        1. I want the president taking personal responsibility for such actions.

        2. If the President isn’t willing to discover who was responsible for the bad intel and publicly fire them for gross incompetence, then the blame rests with the President.

          1. Firing isn’t good enough for mass murder. There needs to be prosecution. Of the President, if warranted.

  5. Yawn.

    I’m sure Mr. Buttplug will be here shortly to deliver his SLOPPY PULLOUT!!!! quip — that clever dismissal of anyone who would dare criticize Biden’s handling of Afghanistan.


    1. “…that clever dismissal…”

      That’s GOOD!

      1. OBL is the best

    2. SPB is a master baiter and switcher

  6. And the libs will rush to excuse this. They already are. I made the mistake of checking the twitters on it. There’s a whole lot of, “Well, they thought the intel was good. It’s not their fault.”

    Fucking McKenzie. How he hasn’t blown his brains from shame and dishonor yet is truly beyond me.

    1. “Well, they thought the intel was good. It’s not their fault.”

      Why don’t the liberals accept this excuse when the police use it to justify killing Black people?

    2. This is something I keep saying after each egregious police shooting. If this is in accordance with department policy, then you need to change your f*cking department policy.

      If anyone should be held accountable, it’s whoever set the policy. Meaning the generals.

  7. They were not accidentally killed. It was completely deliberate.

    If you wanted to say they were negligently killed, or killed by incompet

    1. or killed by incompetence, that’s one thing.

      But this wasn’t an ‘oopsie, my finger slipped on the button’ killing. there was a whole chain of people who fucked up.

      1. Almost like someone needed to die and it didn’t matter much who, as long as the thinnest veil of “TERRORISTS!!!” could be drawn over it.

      2. The intelligence analysts and assets need to be held responsible. I can’t fault upper management for trusting the process.
        At some point lower, someone lied or was completely negligent or both.

      3. That chain ran right to the Oval Office, unless Biden decided he didn’t want to be briefed and authorization for use has been changed. The latter may be true, given the at the time alleged nature of the target.

  8. The evil presence of Trump made Biden do it.

    1. It’s always Trump’s fault.

      1. Remember how Trump droned an Iranian terrorist in retaliation for him putting a hit on Americans, and Reason fretted that it was WW3.

        Well this was just an “accident”. Seven innocent kids < One Iranian militant.

        1. It’s totally the same dude !
          Ain’t that right sarc?

      2. Joe For King!

    1. I predicted the other day, with all the shit being brought out against Milley, he will turn on the Biden administration in a couple weeks to cover his own ass. This incident makes that even more likely. He went out, I am sure at the behest of the administration, and told everyone it was a righteous hit when questions began to arise. He became the face of the Biden administration’s response to questions on the validity of the strike. He won’t let that stand. He can’t let that stand. Otherwise he will become the administration’s scape goat. Milley is a weasel but even weasels strike back when cornered. His testimony before congress should be interesting. Does he continue to toe the line? Or does he cover his own ass and throw everyone else under the bus? My reading of Milley is that he is a wind sock who only cares about himself. I served under many like him, and they never have any real loyalties except to themselves. He will, in my expectations, throw the Biden administration under the bus and try to play the role of the dedicated soldier who was ignored.

      1. “…He will, in my expectations, throw the Biden administration under the bus and try to play the role of the dedicated soldier who was ignored….”

        Especially when he was conducting the foreign affairs negotiations with the CCCP!

        1. Yeah, he already is playing that card.

      2. He likely is a wind sock. But it’s going to be pointed out that the best thing for this wind sock to do is fall on his sword, mea culpa to Congress if necessary, and dive head first into a board position (with sweetheart stock options) at GenDyn, or some other Big Green purveyor.

        Or he can stand up for himself and blame the Puppet-in-Chief, and see what that gets him.

        1. Officers like Milley don’t fall on their swords, they fight for themselves to the bitter end.

          1. Which generally (no pun intended) is what is the ultimate undoing.

          2. He doesn’t have the backbone or convictions. Milley will continue to shill to the bitter end.

            1. This is all too typical of senior ‘leaders,’ they reflect the culture, and have minimal time in combat. They are more concerned with optics, and honor, than with integrity and standards.

              1. No field is immune from the Peter principles.

      3. The two weasels will cut a deal and the press will bury everything. Meanwhile some MAGA terrorist coven will be “discovered”, and attention will turn to the threat at home.

      4. As someone knowledgeable, who exactly is most likely responsible for these intelligence failures?

        1. I think there was more than likely multiple factors. One is, yes, it can be difficult to assess what is going on on the ground from aerial imagery -this is an extension of my cannot control territory from air or via artillery denial riff. Two, as awesome as ‘the military must be controlled by civilian leadership’ is as a soundbite, in practice, their is little need for change based on gillibrandian rhetoric. Congress already controls how the military is used, funded, etc. And, given the clear lack of experience in military functions, and inability to function as a cohesive organization on their own, Congress has no place making on the fly ‘somebody do something’ demands. Three, politicians and career senior leaders in the military -these are really the same group, but in different circles, may have been looking to protect the jugfuck of a withdrawal, but were also looking for a ‘win.’ The WH needed to come out looking not completely useless, feckless, stupid, weak, and ineffective. This is perhaps the worst part, if and when outside political influence drives military mission-making, and loss of life occurs. Merely my two cents, but I spent a good chunk of time on the ground there.

  9. Does Joe yet know about this?

      1. If any of those children were girls, joe is going to be upset.

        1. They don’t squirm so much when you sniff them … if they are dead.

        2. Lots of pictures of Joe petting boys. He’s not particular.

        1. Don’t call me “Pal”, Fella.

          1. Don’t call me fella, bub!

              1. 侜败瘅’s greatest contribution to society.

  10. Our newest lefty shit Joe Friday was here this morning claiming that droolin’ Joe’s colossal fuck up was a result of the DoD ‘favoring Trump and not handing over information'(!).
    Just looked; he’s not here yet blaming this on Trump, but give him some time.

    1. The DoD tried to remove Trump via a coup. Anything more than a milley second ago, progressives forget.

      1. “a milley second ago”

        You, Sir, are Genius.

        1. A champion player with words!

      2. BTW, the link was Politico, and it seems the left has not yet given up on finding *some* hook to blame droolin’ Joe’s fuckup on Trump; so far, none have gotten anywhere.
        This was a new one on me, and it’s hard to believe it’ll get any more traction than the lame ‘the press favored Trump!’ lie (championed by turd and Tony here).
        Probably be gone by the Sunday TV TV blatherings.
        Their best approach so far is ‘it wasn’t bad – it would have happened anyway – he won’t do it again’; Mike’s fave drivel.

        1. They keep matriculating between that (Trump’s fault), Biden did the same thing as Trump’s plan, the intelligence was bad, the puppet Afghan government messed up or the folks were told to leave but stayed. Biden said, “The buck stops here.” But everything he has said after has been contrary to that.

          1. “Biden said, “The buck stops here.” But everything he has said after has been contrary to that.”
            This is a mystery to turd, Tony, sarc, commie shit, the new lefty asshole Joe Friday and other brain-dead lefty assholes.
            Every one of them (the asshole Joe Friday, most recently) tried to hang droolin’ Joe’s colossal fuckup on Trump.
            And failed.

    2. “Our newest lefty shit Joe Friday”

      Lol, he’s not new.
      “Joe Friday” was White Mike mute-evading with yet another sockpuppet.

      1. “As White Knight and Mike Laursen said, correctly…” – Joe Friday

    3. You mean Joe Friday who has an AA and runs a construction business who feels that qualifies him to lecture others on their personal health decisions? He even said as much he expects people to listen to reason- that he says. That is almost an exact quote.

  11. “ …just days after a previous bombing killed 13 U.S. troops and at least 170 Afghans.”

    Yep. Just “days after.” Let’s review: first, the humiliation and tragedy of dead US soldiers at the airport was underscored by piss-poor intel, notwithstanding some 11th hour alerts of an imminent attack.

    The piss-poor intel had a political cousin. It was tethered to a self-serving, rushed, chaotic, clusterfuck-of-a-withdrawal decision by Biden.

    { We had a plan for every contingency, Biden reminded us.)

    That intel didn’t improve, “just days after.” How could it? It could only get worse. Toss in, at this point, the political reflex to counterbalance the humiliation and US deaths. Toss in perception, which is what ultimately matters to this administration and to Biden-it’s long been his reason for being.

    And so this ugly crucible leads us to kill -first-and-ask questions-later. The whole thing is disgraceful.

    1. “Toss in perception, which is what ultimately matters to this administration and to Biden-it’s long been his reason for being.”

      And now he’s saddled with the ghosts of 13 dead Marines and 7 dead kids. How’s that for “perception?”

      1. Like he gives a shit. Or can even count up to thirteen at this point.

        1. “Or can even count up to thirteen at this point.”
          Only if he gets 13 cups of lime Jell-O.

  12. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “this is what over the horizon capabilities look like” especially with minimal to zero Humint resources on the ground. Remember Jen Psaki bragged about this strike as a success that proved the effectiveness of over the horizon capabilities. I called bullshit then, and do so again.

    1. Their HumInt, in this case, was the Taliban. The Taliban told them who to whack.

      I’m just glad the stupid sonsofbitches didn’t blast an apartment building where some dual-nationals have been holing up since the military admitted they were turning people—including Americans—away on the last day or two. Try to explain smoking a dozen Americans with a SDB, since you relied on the Taliban to do your IFF for you.

      1. “Try to explain smoking a dozen Americans with a SDB, since you relied on the Taliban to do your IFF for you.”

        The press will ignore it and interview Fauci instead.

  13. Do These People even KNOW what day it is?

  14. Imagine if cops had shot into a house and killed some kids. Would reason call that an accident?

    1. The question answers itself.

    2. If the cop was black and the kids’ last name Babbitt, maybe.

      1. If the last name was Babbit, the cop didn’t shoot into the house. It would be worded that a bullet struck Babbit after entering the house.

      2. Reason lefties could give a fuck about the race of the shooting cop. Jacob sullen: what do you call a dead trump supporter, a good start.

  15. Mission Accomplished!!

    1. Heck of a job Brownie.

  16. Just as a question, can anyone name anything associated with the Biden administration that they haven’t fucked up? As much as I despise Trump and Obama and Bush (though in my youth, unfortunately I defended Bush) and Clinton, I can name some things they didn’t fuck up. I can name things Carter didn’t fuck up. In fact, I can name something every President since Washington didn’t fuck up, even the bad ones like Adams, Jackson, Buchanan, Wilson and FDR. I simply can’t come up with anything that Biden hasn’t fucked up. And I would like to be proved wrong, because I love our country and try to be non-partisan. So, please can anyone give me an example of something Joe hasn’t fucked up.

    1. Answering Titus below, I found something, yay, in 8 months Biden hasn’t yet found a way to start a new war. He may have set the grounds for a worse war than we have fought in a long time, considering how belligerent China has become, especially since Afghanistan, and how little our European allies trust us now, but for now, we can say Biden hasn’t fucked up by starting a new war so far. Yay, I found something he hasn’t fucked up…. Yet!

      1. Disagree. He aided the complete destabilization of Afghanistan and helped install a hostile, terrorist regime with a history of crossing borders. He’s demonstrated how ubreliable and callous an ally we can be, and they’re indicating they won’t fight for Hong Kong or Taiwan, which makes China moisten with delight.

        I’d say Joe started a new war with terror.

      2. New domestic war on terror.

    2. His timing on when to run for president?

  17. The entire DC establishment is full of idiots, incompetents, power hungary degenerates…forieign policy went off the rails after the cold war. We should have closed down the CIA, brought the troops home and ended NATO..this is what occurs with an Empire and one that exists ONLY because it has the worlds reserve currency. Shut it all down..every govt agence created after 1960..just shut it down. The amount of killing the US does since 2001 is unbelievable and almost none of it is for national security of the people..Bush..a war criminal..so is Obama and Biden. Trump didn’t start new war so he wins the 21st century..

    1. To be fair, Biden has started any new wars yet either. Hey I found something to answer my question. So far, in 8 months Biden hasn’t started a new war. Although his blunders might very well result in a real war, not a low intensity, COIN war. But so far, yay no new wars for 8 months. I won’t hold my breath that that will last long, but at least I found something that Biden hasn’t fucked up yet.

      1. Give him time. Or better, don’t.
        He’s already provoked China by giving nuclear subs to Australia, aiding one anti-freedom regime to contain another, sort of like FDR in WW2, helping Stalin to stop Hitler.

        1. Lockdown under

  18. This reminds me of Gulf War I, when Schwarzkopf showed video footage of a paveway strike on some scud launchers.

    Turned out they were milk trucks.

    1. I thought that was Clinton, and it was a formula plant. Clinton also blew up a Chinese embassy in his war against Serbia.

      1. And a couple empty tents trying to get Bin Laden.

      2. The Chinese embassy was really bad because the excuse was they were using outdated maps.

      3. Clinton took out a formula plant in Sudan or Yemen, IIRC.

      4. Couldn’t find the footage on Youtube, but here’s an article from the New Yorker:

        The postwar analysis indicated that a number of the targets the pilots had hit were actually decoys, constructed by the Iraqis from old trucks and spare missile parts. Others were tanker trucks transporting oil on the highway to Jordan. A tanker truck, after all, is a tractor-trailer hauling a long, shiny cylindrical object, and, from twenty thousand feet up at four hundred miles an hour on a six-by-six-inch screen, a long, shiny cylindrical object can look a lot like a missile.

        1. It is hard to keep the fucked up targeting straight.

  19. Where is the fucking accountability?

    If these jackasses can murder families without repercussions, We ought to be cheered in the streets for making them swallow their teeth.

    Two-tier systems. Fuck Joe Biden.

  20. In this year do not worry about money you can start a new Business and do an online job I have started a new Business and I am making over $84, 8254 per month I was started with 25 persons company now I have make a company of 200 peoples you can start a Business with a company of 10 to 50 peoples or join an online job.For more info click on this web link……www.cashidea1.com

  21. Obama’s daughter introduced a site that can help many people financially. If you want to earn extra income every month … look no further! This is a great opportunity for anyone to earn from home. you can work online only for 5 to 8 hours on my computer and this was so smooth that I personally couldn’t accept it as true before working on this website. if you too need to earn this sort of huge cash then come and be part of us. go to the home tab section for more details…..www.cashidea1.com


    1. Batman.

  23. They only admitted it because they got caught in the lie.

    1. Nah, that wouldn’t do it. There’s some other reason.

  24. This tragedy is just one more instance of US military oppression. Over 20 years we have killed tens of thousands of innocent women and children. For quite some time we would count their broken, charred bodies as “enemy combatants”. Every member of Congress who voted for appropriations for the Afghanistan conflict has blood on their hands as does every President since, and including GW Bush.

  25. Hey Scott, it’s spelled

    B I D E N

  26. Had to show that removing the military and closing the airbase before getting civilians to safety wasn’t an idiotic brain dead plan. So quick lets do a drone strike tell everyone it was a terrorists with lots of bombs that exploded.
    The moronic plan followed up with the immoral plan. Robert Gates was right and Biden’s 40 years of bad foreign policy continues, innocents die but his son gets rich and the big guy takes a cut.

  27. Oh, suddenly we care about killing civilians with drones in other countries? How politically expedient of you.

    1. You must be new here.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.