I first heard about Emal when US forces launched a drone attack in Kabul, saying it was targeting a suicide car bomb suspected of preparing an attack on the airport.
That day, ten members of Emal’s family were killed, including her 3-year-old daughter, Malika, and her older brother Zemarai Ahmadi.
“Only God knows about my pain,” he told me when I finally met him at the site of the American attack, right next to the huge columns of rubble that still filled the entire courtyard.
It takes Emal about fifteen seconds to list the names of all those killed in a rocket attack that targeted his home on August 29.
A US official said the attack was carried out by a drone and that secondary explosions showed that the vehicle had been loaded with a “substantial amount of explosive material.”
But Emal refutes that claim: “You know the United States made a big mistake in targeting civilians here. It’s a mistake. First they should have found information about my family, about my brother, what his job is, what he is doing, what family members are doing. After that, they could have targeted us. “
Eyewitnesses speak of a large explosion that shook the neighborhood, and footage from fans showed black smoke rising into the sky.
Emal describes the horror of coming home to find the bodies of her loved ones strewn across the yard and sidewalk: “Some of them, like my daughter, my brother’s children… They were sadly torn to pieces. They were chunks of meat. It was terrible”.
The US Central Command said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties.
But Emal said no one had come to gather evidence so far: “No one has come here, just reporters. Nobody from the government, nor from the United States, nobody has come here for us, to offer us their condolences. “
The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, says “procedures were followed correctly” and that the attack “was a fair attack.”
The Pentagon claims that Zemarai Ahmadi was an “Islamic State facilitator”, and that his car was filled with explosives, posing an imminent threat to US troops.
But an investigation by New York Times based on security footage of Zemarai Ahmadi reconstructing his movements hours before he was killed. What they found seems to suggest that Zemarai Ahmadi was not an imminent threat to US troops, but a long-time humanitarian worker. And that he did not bring explosive material, but water containers to his house due to the water shortage in his neighborhood.
Special immigration visa
Four days before Zemarai Ahmadi was assassinated, the American NGO he worked for had requested that his family receive refugee resettlement in the United States. At the time of the strike, they were still awaiting approval.
Emal says plans to move to the United States have now been abandoned. He also wanted to send a message to foreign nations: “My message to the United States and other countries is that they should try to avoid making mistakes in Afghanistan. Do not try to target civilians. Because Afghans really like their family members. And when they lose a father or a brother or a son it is very difficult for them ”.
Since then, the United States has admitted knowing nothing about Zemarai Ahmadi before killing him. And the morning after the attack that killed Emal’s family, the self-proclaimed Islamic State group attacked the airport again, using rockets launched by a white Toyota, like Zemari Ahmadi’s.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism