ACLU Statement on Two Year Anniversary of Kabul Drone Strike

The ACLU and its partners have been representing the drone strike victims’ surviving family members and Nutrition & Education International colleagues seeking evacuation

August 29, 2023 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — Today marks the two-year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed Zemari Ahmadi, an Afghan aid worker, and nine members of his family, including seven children. Mr. Ahmadi was employed by Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a U.S.-based humanitarian organization.

Those killed in addition to Zemari Ahmadi were three of his children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Emal and Royeena Ahmadi’s daughter, Malika, 6; Romal and Arezo Ahmadi’s three children, Arwin, 7, Benyamen, 6, and Ayat, 2; Jamshid and Soma Yousufi’s daughter, Sumaya, 2; and Mr. Ahmadi’s nephew Naser Haidari, 30.

The details of this strike are now familiar and known around the world. After the Pentagon initially claimed the strike was “successful” and “righteous” because it had killed someone it characterized as a suspected terrorist, NEI’s own investigation and those of prominent media outlets made clear that the strike was wrongful and all the dead were innocent civilians.

“Words cannot describe my grief since the drone strike, or the impact it has had on me and my family to lose so many people we loved and cherished,” said Anisa Ahmadi, Zemari Ahmadi’s wife, mother of three of the boys killed, and grandmother of another child who was killed. “We still have a long road ahead but I am grateful we have finally been evacuated after months of waiting and desperation. I pray now for peace and for us to be able to have safe and secure lives.”

Since the strike, the American Civil Liberties Union and its partners have been representing Zemari Ahmadi’s former employer, NEI, as well as the drone strike victims’ surviving family members and NEI employees seeking evacuation from Afghanistan because their lives and security were jeopardized as a direct result of U.S. government actions.

“It has been a privilege for us to support our courageous clients and NEI throughout this traumatic time,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “Although it took many excruciating months longer than we and our clients expected, we appreciate that U.S. government officials have worked to ensure resettlement of most of our clients from their perilous situation. After enduring unspeakable loss and ongoing trauma because of our government’s actions, leaving Afghanistan is the first step for these families to start rebuilding their lives.”

As of today, 140 of the people the U.S. government promised to help are in the United States, resettled as refugees. The ACLU remains deeply concerned about the fate of two families who are still desperately awaiting evacuation.

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