An American mourns the life of a close friend taken by one of the final US drone strikes of a senseless 20-year war
I am writing today to share a human touch point regarding the end of the US war in Afghanistan. I worked for much of 2012 in a grassroots nonprofit in Kabul. On Sunday, my dear friend and nine of his family members were killed by a US drone explosion near their home. I’m sending some memories of him and photos and the story of their death. May their memory be a blessing and a revolution.
Ezmerai Ahmadi, a dear dear Afghan friend and nine of his family members including some of his children, were killed Sunday, August 29, 2021 in a US drone attack near the airport in Kabul. While I lived in Afghanistan, Ezmerai was the man who made me feel the safest and the most free. He was my closest Afghan friend. He worked at my organization as a catch-all kind of guy, so that often meant he was my driver, my handy man, and the person I felt most comfortable practicing Dari with. He and his family were so gracious and generous to me. In fact, they hosted me in the very home where the drone exploded. Although there were so many formalities and cultural differences between us, he and I shared an intimate friendship that is one of my most valued treasures. My heart is broken at the loss of this Afghan family, who was also family to me. We laughed together and had inside jokes together, despite my bad Dari—his English was much better. I heard from him just last week and had hoped to help him get a P2 visa to leave Kabul. This man changed me—he taught me so much about life and people and Afghan culture, that I could have never learned without his steady friendship. He was a tender, beautiful, silly man who loved his family and worked hard to see them succeed. Ezmerai spent the last 10 years working to end malnutrition and hunger in Afghanistan, one of the most deadly killers in that beloved place.
I want you all to know this tragedy that is a consequence of modern war. Someone far away that had never been to that area made the decision to send a rocket. He had just dropped off some of his colleagues after work and he was pulling into his house in his car, opening the gate. The kids ran out to greet him and welcome him home. He was a beloved and playful father and uncle. Those kids loved greeting him after work each day, they greeted me too when I came home for dinners with his family after work. The drone hit nearby and everyone who was outside greeting him as he came home in to the little compound died almost instantly. His wife and daughter survived him. The attack was meant to hit an ISIS target, instead it destroyed a family, a neighborhood. His friends, family, and employer—we are all united in the belief Ezmerai was completely innocent and had no involvement with ISIS or the Taliban and the world should know the truth.
I grieve that the home I planned to stay in when I made it back to visit and the man and family who made it a home, has been taken from us by such unnecessary violence. I grieve the loss of such a dear friend, who was my age. I grieve for those he left behind whose lives will be forever changed. I grieve for the people of Afghanistan who have known so much more trauma and violence than anyone ever should.
War is never an end in itself. It’s peace that is wanted. A greater peace than we have had.
Many of my friends from Kabul are trying to get their visas to resettle here in the US. I’m sure they will need lots of financial support when they arrive. If you are interested in supporting their resettlement, let me know. The visa process is slow but they could arrive in days or within the next year depending on how the crisis unfolds.
Ezmerai Jan, Rest In Peace dear one. I can’t believe you are gone.
Please keep his family and all Afghans in your prayers.
Tracy Bindel works for Wisdom & Money at the intersections of spirituality and finance. She met Ezmerai Ahmadi in 2012 as an international aid worker at Nutrition and Education International, a food security nonprofit in Kabul. Bindel recently graduated Suffolk University Law School and is now taking courses toward a Masters in Divinity degree. She is based in Minneapolis, MN.
See below for more photos.