Blinken says he doesn’t know if US strike in Kabul killed humanitarian or jihadist

The head of American diplomacy was questioned by a senator on the drone attack carried out on August 29 to prevent a new attack on Kabul airport.

US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken admitted on Tuesday (September 14th) that he did not know if the latest US strike in Kabul, which was supposed to have prevented “An imminent threat”, had killed a jihadist of the Islamic State-Khorasan (EI-K) group or a humanitarian. The New York Times had published an investigation Friday disputing the version of Joe Biden’s government about this drone air attack on August 29, just before the end of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, indicating that it could have killed no a jihadist with the car laden with explosives, but an NGO employee carrying cans of water.

“The man the Biden administration killed by drone, was that an aid worker or an IS-K activist?”, asked Republican Senator Rand Paul during a parliamentary hearing on the withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I don’t know because we are examining” this strike, replied Antony Blinken. The senator estimated that while the American attack had indeed killed civilians, including children, “You may have created hundreds or thousands of new potential terrorists by bombing the wrong targets”.

The family of the driver of the vehicle, Ezmarai Ahmadi, told AFP the day after the strike that ten people, most of them children, had been killed. According to the American newspaper, which is based on images from surveillance cameras and on interviews, the trips deemed suspicious by the American army of Ezmarai Ahmadi on the day of the strike corresponded to an ordinary working day. He also indicates that the trunk of the car was certainly filled with cans of water that the man brought home.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, asked on Friday about the revelations of the New York Times, had claimed that the investigation was continuing but had assured that the army continued to “believe” that the strike had “Prevented an imminent threat to the airport” where the United States was leading the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. The US attack came days after an IS suicide bomber unleashed a massive explosion at the entrance to Kabul airport, killing nearly 100 Afghans as well as 13 US service personnel. The US military left Afghanistan at the end of August after twenty years of war.

U.S. Democratic senators further strangled the implementation on Tuesday. “Fatally failing” of the withdrawal from Afghanistan by the government of Joe Biden, during a hearing with the head of diplomacy Antony Blinken, already faced the day before with sharp criticism from Republicans. “The implementation of the American withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed “, said Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Bob Menendez, calling for the government to bring “Full explanations” and “Be accountable”.

“A lot of us want to know how the intelligence got so wrong. “

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin

If he felt, like Antony Blinken, that “chaos” which accompanied the hasty withdrawal and evacuation of tens of thousands of people at the end of August was due to “The surrender agreement” concluded in 2020 by former US President Donald Trump with the Taliban, the influential elected Democrat also deplored Washington’s unpreparedness. In particular, the failures of intelligence, which according to the Secretary of State did not see the collapse of the Afghan army and the rapid seizure of power by the Taliban. And the very slow process to grant US visas to Afghans who may face reprisals from the Islamists.

“Shouldn’t we have started earlier?”, asked Bob Menendez, who also said to himself “very disappointed” by the refusal of Defense Minister Lloyd Austin to be heard by his committee. Like Monday before the deputies of the House of Representatives, Antony Blinken defended the decisions of his government. He repeatedly insisted that no one predicted that the insurgents might take power “In eleven days”, even before the departure of the last American soldier. “I don’t think that’s true”, replied Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, like many Republicans. “The probability of a collapse” authorities “Was not 0%”, he insisted.

“Many of us want to know how the intelligence could have gone so wrong”, launched the democratic senator Ben Cardin. He also considered that the planned contingency plans had failed to guarantee access to Kabul airport for people wanting to flee Afghanistan. Antony Blinken explained that US intelligence estimated in February that the worst-case scenario would see the Taliban take the Afghan capital within two years of the US leaving. In July, faced with the advance of Islamist rebels, intelligence revised its forecast, warning that the Taliban could come to power before the end of 2021.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said it was not a “Intelligence failure” but of a “Policy failure”, because the government “Did not know or did not want to see” what was going to happen.

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