The New York Times is out with a bombshell investigation that says a drone strike in the final hours of the war in Afghanistan didn’t kill an ISIS facilitator as claimed by the Pentagon but an aid worker and 9 other civilians, including children:

According to the NYT, the military didn’t even know who they were targeting:

The NYT investigation used surveillance footage showing the man targeted by the strike, Zemar Ahmadi, in the hours before the attack along with interviews with eyewitnesses, friends and colleagues:

The packages that Ahmadi was observed loading into his car before the attack were reportedly for water:

Watch for yourself:

The NYT also reports that there were no secondary explosions that the Pentagon said were caused by explosives in his car. From the transcript:

A U.S. official told us that the strike on Ahmadi’s car was conducted by an MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired a single Hellfire missile with a 20-pound warhead. We found remnants of the missile, which experts said matched a Hellfire at the scene of the attack. In the days after the attack, the Pentagon repeatedly claimed that the missile strike set off other explosions, and that these likely killed the civilians in the courtyard. “Significant secondary explosions from the targeted vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.” “Because there were secondary explosions, there’s a reasonable conclusion to be made that there was explosives in that vehicle.” But a senior military official later told us that it was only possible to probable that explosives in the car caused another blast. We gathered photos and videos of the scene taken by journalists and visited the courtyard multiple times. We shared the evidence with three weapons experts who said the damage was consistent with the impact of a Hellfire missile. They pointed to the small crater beneath Ahmadi’s car and the damage from the metal fragments of the warhead. This plastic melted as a result of a car fire triggered by the missile strike. All three experts also pointed out what was missing: any evidence of the large secondary explosions described by the Pentagon. No collapsed or blown-out walls, including next to the trunk with the alleged explosives. No sign that a second car parked in the courtyard was overturned by a large blast. No destroyed vegetation. All of this matches what eyewitnesses told us, that a single missile exploded and triggered a large fire. There is one final detail visible in the wreckage: containers identical to the ones that Ahmadi and his colleague filled with water and loaded into his trunk before heading home.

The NYT did report that a similar car to that of Ahmadi’s was used earlier in the day in a rocet attack on the airport:

Even though the military said the drone team watched the car for eight hours that day, a senior official also said they weren’t aware of any water containers. The Pentagon has not provided The Times with evidence of explosives in Ahmadi’s vehicle or shared what they say is the intelligence that linked him to the Islamic State. But the morning after the U.S. killed Ahmadi, the Islamic State did launch rockets at the airport from a residential area Ahmadi had driven through the previous day. And the vehicle they used … … was a white Toyota.

More from Christoph Koettl, on of the NYT journos who put this together:

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