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Blinken Dodges on Whether Afghanistan Drone Strike Targeted Aid Worker Instead of ISIS Bomber

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks following talks on the situation in Afghanistan, at the State Department in Washington, D.C., August 30, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken over a drone strike targeting what the Pentagon initially said was an ISIS-K car bomb, but which subsequent evidence indicated was a worker for an American aid organization and members of his family.

“The guy the Biden administration droned — was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Paul asked Blinken during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The administration is, of course, reviewing that strike, and I’m sure that a, you know, full assessment will be forthcoming,” Blinken responded.

“So you don’t know if it was an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative? . . . You don’t know or you won’t tell us?” Paul said.

“I don’t know because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken answered.

“See, you’d think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or an ISIS-K” operative, Paul said. “This isn’t just you. . . . The Obama administration droned hundreds and hundreds of people, and the thing is, there is blowback to that.”

The Pentagon announced on August 29 that the U.S. conducted a drone strike on a potential car bomb believed to be headed toward the Kabul airport. The strike killed “multiple suicide bombers,” U.S. officials told the Associated Press at the time.

However, ten members of the same family were killed in that strike, relatives told CNN that same day. While the Pentagon maintained that there were secondary explosions from the strike indicating the presence of a bomb, an investigation by the New York Times found no evidence for such secondary explosions. The driver of the car hit in the strike was Zemari Ahmadi, according to the Times, an aid worker for Nutrition and Education International since 2006.

The strike occurred several days after an ISIS-K suicide bomber attacked the Kabul airport, killing 13 American service members and close to 200 Afghans.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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