U.S. pledges to pay relatives of innocent Afghans killed in drone strike

SINGAPORE —

The U.S. Defense Department said Friday that it was working to provide condolence payments to relatives of 10 innocent Afghans killed in a mistaken drone strike and to help relocate some of them to the United States. The payments were discussed during a meeting between Dr. Colin Kahl (undersecretary of Defense policy) and Steven Kwon (founder and president of Nutrition & Education International). Pasadena had hired Zemari Ahmadi as a volunteer, but he was mistakenly identified as a terrorist and died in the attack on the family compound.

Emal Ahmadi, Ahmadi’s brother, told The Times that he still awaits an apology from the U.S. and compensation for his mistake. The U.S. admitted the error in and said it would investigate ex gratia payments for the family. Emal Ahmadi stated Saturday that he hadn’t heard anything from the U.S. nor Nutrition & Education International. The Times informed Ahmadi about the meeting between Kahl, Kwon.

” I am very happy to hear this,” Ahmadi said. He believes that his family is under threat from the Taliban due to his brother’s involvement with an American nonprofit. “I don’t know what to say. We are always in danger since the Taliban took rule of the country.”

The military launched the strike believing Zemari Ahmadi posed an imminent threat to U.S. forces involved in evacuations at the airport in Kabul as the Taliban was taking control of the Afghan capital. It was believed that he was a member an offshoot group called Islamic State in Khorasan or ISIS-K.

The attack occurred in the last days of the United States’ failed two-decade-old attempt to replace Taliban with a stable Western-backed government.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Khal reiterated with Kwon that the strike was a “tragic mistake” and that Zemari Ahmadi and the other victims, including seven children, “were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to U.S. forces.”

Kirby said the Pentagon was working with the State Department to help relocate the family to the U.S.

Emal Ahmadi said he was confident the U.S. would honor its pledge.

“America is a superpower, therefore we believe in them,” he said. “Whatever America says, they must act accordingly, and I believe that they are going to pay and relocate us.”

Times staff writers Pierson reported from Singapore and Yam from Paris. This report was contributed by Tracy Wilkinson, Washington staff writer.

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