One Year Later, ACLU Urges President Biden to Keep His Promise to Evacuate Kabul Drone Strike Survivors

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

August 29, 2022 9:00 am

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NEW YORK — Today marks the one year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed an aid worker and his family. For a week after the strike, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge its mistake, even defending it by repeating allegations that it had properly targeted an alleged terrorist.

After news footage squarely refuted the government’s story, the Biden administration finally apologized, and promised to evacuate and eventually compensate the extended family of the mistakenly targeted aid worker, Zemari Ahmadi, as well as his colleagues at Nutrition & Education International staff and headquarters devastated by the strike.

Those killed were Zemari Ahmadi and three of his children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Romal Ahmadi’s three children, Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2; Emal Ahmadi’s daughter, Malika, 3; the child of Mr. Ahmadi’s cousin and stepdaughter, Sumaya, 3; and Mr. Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30.

As of today, only 11 of the 144 people the government promised to help are in the United States. 32 of them are still awaiting evacuation in Afghanistan, while the remainder are in third countries awaiting security and immigration processing by the U.S. government.

Below are comments from Dr. Steven Kwon, founder and president of NEI, and Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney with ACLU’s Center for Democracy, in response:

Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney at the ACLU:

“It’s been a year since a U.S. drone strike in Kabul wrongly targeted Zemari and wrecked countless innocent lives. Unfortunately, the government still hasn’t made good on its promises to evacuate our clients, let alone resettle them in the U.S.

“We’re grateful for what the government has done to bring many of Zemari’s loved ones to safety, but for those who remain, the situation is getting more desperate by the day. After the strike, the U.S. government made a rare promise to make amends for the dire consequences of their ‘mistake’ and it would be a tremendous institutional failure if the government failed to follow through. The government needs to urgently act before it’s too late.”

Dr. Steven Kwon, founder and president of Nutrition and Education International:

“Zemari was a proud father who spoke constantly about building a better future for his seven children. Nothing can bring him, his three sons, or his six nieces and nephews back, but the U.S. government can and must help the innocent people whose lives they destroyed by bringing them to safety and helping them rebuild their lives.

“On the one-year anniversary of the strike, I’m hoping my government will finally keep its promise and quickly evacuate all the survivors and their families.”

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