Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Relatives and neighbors of the Ahmadi family gathered around the incinerated husk of a vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul

Relatives and neighbors of the Ahmadi family gathered around the incinerated husk of a vehicle hit by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 30, 2021. (Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

US to Offer 'Condolence Payments' to Relatives of 10 Civilians Killed in Drone Strike

The Pentagon statement follows a call for President Joe Biden to "show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations."

Andrea Germanos

The Pentagon said Friday that the U.S. would issue "condolence payments" to relatives of 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, killed in an August drone strike—an attack military officials had initially defended as a "righteous strike" targeting an explosive-laden vehicle destined for militants and later admitted to being a "horrible tragedy" that claimed innocent lives.

The statement from Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby followed a Thursday virtual meeting that included Dr. Steven Kwon, president and CEO of Nutrition & Education International (NEI), and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl. NEI had employed as a technical engineer Zemari Ahmadi, who was killed along with nine members of his family in the August 29 Hellfire missile strike in Kabul as the U.S. was pulling its troops out of Afghanistan.

"Kahl noted that the strike was a tragic mistake," said Kirby, "and that Mr. Ezmarai 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."

"What makes this tragedy different from so many others during the war in Afghanistan is that because of public attention, top Pentagon officials met with NEI and explicitly promised to help."

"Dr. Kahl reiterated Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's commitment to the families, including offering ex gratia condolence payments," the statement added.

The statement further indicated the Pentagon is working with the State Department to help resettle surviving members of Ahmadi's family in the U.S., according to the Washington Post.

NEI's Kwon, in a Thursday statement, welcomed the meeting with the Pentagon officials as a positive step.

In addition to being "like a son to me," Kwon praised Ahmadi as a "gifted engineer" who was "an essential part of our operations and successes."

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing NEI as it asks the U.S. government to help resettle the victims, provide compensation, and begin a thorough probe into the strike.

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, drew attention to the fact that the scrutiny and pledge for compensation in the case is an anomaly. Watchdog groups have repeatedly said the military's tally of civilian victims are vast undercounts and meaningful compensation is often absent.

"The U.S. wrongly killed [Ahmadi family members'] loved ones, and what makes this tragedy different from so many others during the war in Afghanistan," she said, "is that because of public attention, top Pentagon officials met with NEI and explicitly promised to help."

Shamsi also expressed hope "that the investigation into the strike provides NEI and the Ahmadi family meaningful transparency and accountability."

In a statement last month following the U.S. admission of a mistake in the deadly Kabul attack, Amnesty International also drew attention to the ongoing need for U.S. accountability for its strikes across the globe.

"Many similar strikes in Syria, Iraq, and Somalia have happened out of the spotlight, and the U.S. continues to deny responsibility while devastated families suffer in silence," said Brian Castner, senior crisis advisor with Amnesty International's Crisis Response Programme.

"The U.S.," he said, "must ensure that it ends unlawful strikes, consistently and thoroughly investigates all allegations of civilians harmed in attacks, and publicly discloses its findings."

Daphne Eviatar, director of the Security With Human Rights program at Amnesty International USA, said "the Biden administration must not repeat the violations of previous administrations and must now prioritize civilian protection."

"President [Joe] Biden should show real concern for civilians by taking more meaningful steps to prevent civilian casualties as a result of all U.S. lethal operations," she said, "as well as to investigate and assist those harmed."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'When We Fight, We Win!' San Francisco Airport Workers End Strike After Pay Victory

"This strike was so worth it to give my family a better life," said one union member.

Jake Johnson ·


US Gas Flaring Releases Five Times More Methane Than Previously Thought

"This study adds to the growing body of research that tells us that the oil and gas industry has a flaring problem," said Jon Goldstein of EDF, which conducted related research on the practice.

Jessica Corbett ·


Activists Call Fed Pilot Program to Assess Banks' Climate Risk a 'Welcome First Step'

"To truly safeguard financial stability," said one campaigner, "the Fed must further introduce policies that reflect the high risk of fossil fuel investments."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Gut Punch': Biden Pulls Student Debt Relief for Millions as GOP States Sue

"The Biden administration told several million people they'd see their debt reduced by $10-20K, and a month later quietly wrote 'just kidding' on a website," said one affected borrower.

Brett Wilkins ·


Controlled by Right-Wing Justices, US Supreme Court's Approval Hits All-Time Low

"This is what happens when SCOTUS nominees lie about settled law at their nomination hearings," said one observer.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo