But what the rumors and opinion pieces didn’t say was that the real surprise wasn’t Haqqani’s public appearance – it was that he did at all: Several times over the past two decades, the US military believed they had killed him in drone strikes.
It is clear that Haqqani is alive and well. But this raises a stark question: If Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani was not killed in those US drone strikes, who was he?
The usual gentle response is “terrorists,” an answer now established by the highest levels of the American security state. But the recent days of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan have shown that this is not necessarily true. A day after an attack on troops at Kabul’s busy airport, for example, the United States responded with a “targeted” drone strike in the capital. Then it turned out that the attack killed 10 members of one family, all of them civilians. One of the victims worked as an interpreter for the United States in Afghanistan and had a special immigrant visa ready. Seven victims were children. This did not match the general success story initially told by the Biden administration.
However, something different happened with this blow. Over the years, most of the air operations conducted by the United States took place in remote rural locations where few facts could be verified and not many people were able to go to the scene.
But this strike took place in the center of the country’s capital.
Journalists and investigators can visit the site, which means they can easily verify the facts on everything the US was claiming – and what really happened soon became clear. First, local Afghan TV channels, such as Tolo News, showed family members of the victims. With so much attention paid to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the international media is starting to arrive as well. A detailed report by the New York Times has forced Washington to retract its earlier allegations. “It was a tragic mistake,” the Pentagon said during a press conference, as it had to admit that the strike killed innocent civilians unrelated to ISIS.
Indeed, the last US drone strike in Afghanistan – the last high-profile violent act – was eerily similar to the first.
On October 7, 2001, the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban regime. At that day The first drone operation in history took place. An armed Predator drone flew over the southern province of Kandahar, known as the Taliban’s capital, which was the home of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the group’s supreme leader. Agents pressed the button to kill Omar, and fired two Hellfire missiles at a group of bearded Afghans in loose robes and turbans. But then there was none among them. In fact, I’ve gotten away with so-called drones for over a decade, finally Death from natural causes In a bunker miles from a sprawling US base. Instead, America left a long trail of Afghan blood in its attempts to kill him and his comrades.