Backdrop to Mass Murder: At the end of August, the U.S.’s 20-year invasion/occupation/war ON Afghanistan came to a humiliating end. Defeated by the Islamic theocratic Taliban insurgents, the U.S. pledged to withdraw all forces by September 1. But as that date approached, the government and armed forces that the U.S. had propped up to help it fight the Taliban collapsed, and the Taliban’s forces rapidly seized all the major cities including the capital, Kabul. Tens of thousands of Afghan people who had worked with the U.S. or with the pro-U.S. regime swarmed the main airport, fearing reprisals from the Taliban and hoping to get out. This added to the humiliating character of the U.S. withdrawal, which looked more and more like the panicky route of a failing “superpower.”
In the midst of this, Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), an Islamic theocratic rival of the Taliban, carried out a bombing at the airport, killing over 170 Afghan people as well as 13 U.S. soldiers.
In this context, the U.S. was desperate to strike back at ISIS-K, both to deter further attacks by them, but even more to try and dispel the image of American weakness and vulnerability. (For more on the U.S. defeat, go here.)
At 4:45 p.m. on August 29, Zemari Ahmadi, a 43-year-old electrical engineer employed by an American aid organization1 drove through his densely populated Kabul neighborhood and pulled into the narrow courtyard of the home where he, his two brothers and their families all lived. He had just finished a long day of work and had brought home a trunkful of water from his office because there was none in his neighborhood.
… as [Zemari] Ahmadi pulled into his courtyard, several of his children and his brothers’ children came out, excited to see him, and sat in the car as he backed it inside. Mr. Ahmadi’s brother Romal was sitting on the ground floor with his wife when he heard the sound of the gate opening, and Mr. Ahmadi’s car entering … there was a sudden blast, and the room was sprayed with shattered glass from the window, Romal recalled. He staggered to his feet. “Where are the children?” he asked his wife.
“They’re outside,” she replied.
Romal and his wife rushed out into a scene of horror. A U.S. Hellfire missile with 20 pounds of explosives—fired from an MQ-9 Reaper drone guided by an operator 1,000 miles away—had killed most of their family. Dead were Zemari Ahmadi and three of his children—Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10—as well as his 30-year-old cousin Naser.3 Dead were Romal’s three children—Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2—as well as two 3-year-old girls from the neighborhood, Malika and Somaya.
The U.S. tried to justify this mass slaughter by claiming that Zemari was an ISIS-K terrorist plotting another attack at the airport, coming home from an ISIS safe house with a car full of explosives… and that those explosives in his car killed civilians, not the drone strike!
But starting the day after the attack, a series of New York Times articles verified—through examination of video, analysis of the scene by blast experts and interviews with dozens of witnesses, family members and co-workers of Zemari Ahmadi—that he and his family were completely innocent, the car had no explosives, and the family had no connection to ISIS or any other terrorist organization, other than the U.S. military itself.
After the Murders, Propaganda Machine Goes into High Gear
Almost immediately, the U.S. propaganda machine swung into high gear. First came the bragging: military spokespeople said this act of mass murder proved their ability to strike at “terrorists” from “over the horizon,” even after having been driven out of Afghanistan. According to New York Times discussions with U.S. military officials, the attack “dealt ISIS Khorasan a crushing blow” and “demonstrated the degree to which American intelligence officials have refined their target list.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley called it a “righteous strike.”
This was not just about justifying one crime. In pledging to end the “forever war” in Afghanistan, Biden emphasized that America would “maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and in other countries,” but that “we don’t need to fight a ground war to do it.” What Biden is referring to is that the U.S. increasingly relies on drone strikes (as well as Special Forces raids) organized and launched from U.S. military bases around the world, as a crucial element of maintaining domination of its far-flung empire. The “appeal” of this to the imperialists is the belief that this can be done without the intense public scrutiny, financial and human costs of putting U.S. troops on the ground.
But the viability of this strategy rests on the premise that it can accurately identify and take out perceived enemies of the U.S., and can do so without large numbers of civilians being killed, which can also create “blowback.” The on-the-ground reality of the Kabul raid threatened to “blow up” both those premises, so shoring up these premises with boasting and lies was of strategic importance to the U.S.
As usual, most pro-American media went along with this, despite the complete lack of evidence to back up the military’s claims—the same way the media swallows and regurgitates police claims that when they murder unarmed Black people, it is an act of “self-defense” and “justifiable homicide.” But in this case the official story quickly began to come apart, due largely to the Times articles which unraveled the military’s lies.
In response to these exposures, between August 29 and September 13, the military doubled down, concocting a fantastic story to “prove” that the murders were legitimate. The Times reports that although the military admitted that “they did not know the identity” of the man they targeted, they claimed that they had tracked his car as it made “suspicious moves” such as “loading heavy packages into the car,” “possibly” visited an “alleged” ISIS safe house, picked up and dropped off passengers, and so on. Based on all this they decided that they had a “reasonable certainty” that they had an ISIS-K target and “a reasonable certainty” that they could bomb a crowded residential neighborhood and “no women, children or other noncombatant civilians would be killed or injured.”
9/11 and the U.S.'s 20 year War OF Terror
9/11 and the U.S.'s 20 year War OF Terror
The Lies Collapse
The Times reported on September 17, “Almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, and then days, and then weeks after the Aug. 29 drone strike turned out to be false.” Finally “Senior Defense Department leaders” were forced to admit that “the driver of the car, Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group, had nothing to do with the Islamic State,” and that all 10 innocent civilians were killed by the U.S. missile.
But even as they admitted this, U.S. officials essentially insisted that it was not their fault. General Milley said, “This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident.” [Emphasis added] General McKenzie (under whose authority the murders were carried out) said, “We did not have the luxury to develop pattern of life” of their target. In other words, it was necessary to “shoot first and ask questions later.” (Again, the same logic killer cops use to “justify” their murders.)
But this is just more BS. First, they recklessly and wantonly jumped to the conclusion that Ahmadi was an ISIS terrorist based on so-called “evidence” of “suspicious” actions. Then they carried out his execution in the middle of a densely packed neighborhood.
Nor was this a fluke or a “one-off.” During the course of the war, the U.S. dropped more than 38,000 bombs on Afghanistan and launched 12,000 drone strikes. In July of 2002 they bombed a wedding party in Oruzgan, killing up to 30 people. On May 4, 2009, they destroyed the villages of Shiwan and Granai, killing 147. In October 2015 they leveled a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, killing 42 Afghans. It is estimated that at least 111,000, and possibly over 200,000 Afghan people died in the war, tens of thousands of them civilians.
And now again, even as it is run out of the country, the U.S. inflicts mass murder from above—typical of this “heroic” military for which the lives of the Afghan people count for nothing.
As Samia Ahmadi, one of Zemari’s surviving kids put it: “America used us to defend itself, and now they’ve destroyed Afghanistan.”