Drone footage from an American military strike on Kabul in august that left 10 people dead, seven of them children, shows children being present in the minutes leading to the blast.
The New York TimesToday, clips of 25-minutes of footage taken by two MQ-9 Reapers drones, which show the strike, were published. For the footage to be published, the newspaper applied under the Freedom of Information Act. As the United States began pulling out troops from Afghanistan, the August 29th strike was called. The man that military intelligence thought was an Islamic State terrorist planning to attack the airport was hit.
It was all wrong. Zemari Ahmadi (a civilian worker with a California-based food relief organization) was the man they were following. As the drone struck, he was in a “compound”, a place he’d parked his car. It contained family members and their children.
It is not clear why Ahmadi, as incorrectly believed by the military to be a terrorist. This drone footage however does not help. However, both drone footage shows children nearby during the strike. One view from directly above is less clear—black-and-white footage showing heat sources—but there still seem to unmistakably be small bodies moving around near the car just before the strike. Another drone shows more detailed footage. This makes it clear that children lived in an alleyway near the house prior to the strike.
The fact that the strike occurred is part of the reason the U.S. military used drones to fight the War on Terror. Whistleblowers warn us about this because the U.S. claims these strikes are accurate and can eliminate terrorists with no collateral damage.
The footage supports the analysis. The New York TimesPublished in December, the report concluded that the military had drastically undercounted the civilians killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan. It was also an operational decision for military personnel to request drone strikes when children were present, if there was a significant “military benefit” from the strike.
Even if the military intelligence could have seen the exact same footage as we do, the assumption that Ahmadi was carrying bombs to attack the airport might have been more important than any concerns for children nearby.
If nothing else comes from this horrible disaster of a drone strike (the Pentagon has concluded that proper procedures were followed—despite the horrific outcome—and nobody will be disciplined), Americans will understand now that we were all sold a complete lie about how military drones were to be and are used. Perhaps this video is what a government official will bring up when they mention military drones as a more effective form of intervention.