The United States has offered “ex gratia condolence payments” to family members of Afghan civilians who were killed mistakenly in an August 29th drone strike, the Pentagon said in a statement late Friday.
The strike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including one aid worker and seven children, and occurred as the U.S. was evacuating the last troops and U.S. citizens who wished to leave. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin H. Kahl made the offer during a virtual meeting with the founder of the nonprofit aid organization that employed Zemari Ahmadi, the man who was driving the car when it was hit by the drone, The New York Times reported. The Pentagon has not disclosed the amount offered.
“Dr. Kahl noted that the strike was a tragic mistake and that Mr. Zemari Ahmadi and others who were killed were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to U.S. forces,” John Kirby, the Defense Department’s chief spokesman, said in a statement.
Ahmadi was a father of four working with a nonprofit focused on malnutrition, Nutrition & Education International. When acknowledging its error last month, the Pentagon said that Ahmadi was not a member of the Islamic State as it had believed, and he posed no threat. According to the Times, Ahmadi pulled the car up to a courtyard in his home, and three children came out to greet him. Then the military launched a Hellfire missile at the car.
Defense officials also said that the State Department is offering to help relocate members of Ahmadi’s family to the U.S. in addition to financial compensation. Earlier this week, members of Ahmadi’s family told The Los Angeles Times that the U.S. government had not yet contacted them.
“Why are they not contacting us? Why are they not reaching out to us? We lost 10 members of our family. It’s very difficult for me, for our family, for all of us,” Zemari’s brother, Emal Ahmadi, told the L.A. Times, adding, “I’m so angry, I’m so sad.” Emal’s three-year-old daughter, Malika, was also killed in the strike.