The US is admitting error by offering compensation for the lives of innocent children killed by a drone strike in Kabul, but no amount of money will ease their family’s pain, the aggrieved brother of one of the victims told RT.
Not a single terrorist was hit, but seven children – some as young as two – as well as three adults, perished in the charred ruins of their own family’s backyard. In a cruel twist of fate, Zemari Ahmadi, the man whom the US intelligence somehow took for a terrorist preparing an attack, turned out to be a long-time employee of a California-based NGO that distributed food to malnourished Afghans, while another victim was later reported to have worked as a translator with US forces. RT interviewed some of the surviving family members in wake of the strike.
Faced with mounting questions about the glaring mismatch of the Pentagon’s narrative with the reality, the US military was forced to admit the operation’s failure. Eventually, an unspecified financial compensation was offered to the victims’ relatives. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made a “commitment” to the Ahmadi family for compensation, including “ex gratia condolence payments” and State Department assistance in relocating family members to the US, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby revealed last week.
However, the offer of payment was apparently the closest Washington got to a personal apology, which Ahmadi’s relatives say they are yet to receive.
“We would accept [an apology] in case they contact us, apologize and admit that our family is innocent,” the brother of the murdered aid worker, Emal Ahmadi, told RT on Wednesday.
Yet no amount of aid could rectify the tragic events, which have turned the surviving family’s life into misery. “Each day and each moment after that attack, we are constantly feeling pain when we think of those elder or a minor who was killed,” Ahmadi said. He did not directly confirm or deny whether he would accept the American compensation.
Apart from Zemari, the strike also claimed the life of Emal’s own daughter, Malika, who was just two years old. She died alongside another toddler, Sumaya Yousoufi, who was also two.
“Each day after that attack, our life is getting more and more miserable. Day and night, we recall our memories with our brother and our children, we miss them a lot, the life is hell without them,” Emal said in emotional interview, adding that no compensation could ever change that.
“Compensation is not a remedy to the pain inflicted to us; it is a known fact. It can’t replace the loss of my family, my brother, my own daughter and nephews, who have lost their lives, compensation will not bring them back to life.”
Even if the US decided to pay the family “the whole of their wealth” it would still change nothing, the aggrieved father said. He added that his family does not ask anything of the US other than “to investigate thoroughly before such drone attacks in the future.”
America should just leave Afghanistan alone and let its people live in peace, Emal says, adding that one could not find “a single family” in the country that did not have a family member killed during the 20 years of the US war on terror. No humanitarian aid could “compensate the loss you inflicted to this nation,” he adds, addressing Washington.
How [will] you address the miseries and agony of war of the father, a brother, a child or a family? You can feel this pain everywhere, it can’t be dealt with humanitarian aid
Emal says he and his family have no other choice but to leave Afghanistan because it is just to painful for them to continue living in Kabul “without those loving kids” around.
The surviving family members were “happy” to know that the Americans have at least admitted to their mistake publicly, he said.
Emal’s brother Zemari was employed by the American NGO Nutrition & Education International, and the Kabul compound the US insisted was associated with ISIS was actually a building used by the aid organization. The jugs of water Zemari loaded into his vehicle were apparently mistaken for explosives.
The offer of the compensation to Ahmadi’s relatives was reportedly raised during a virtual meeting between Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl and Dr. Steven Kwon, who employed Zemari. The Afghan had reportedly been working for the NGO for 14 years at the time of his untimely death.