A 4-Year-Old Girl Was the Sole Survivor of a U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan. Then She Disappeared.
By May Jeong—The Intercept—January 27th, 2018—
Asadabad, the sylvan capital of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, has a population of more than 30,000 but the feel of a village. Little happens there without being noticed. Were you out surveying the bazaar on September 7, 2013, you might have seen eight men, three women, and four young children climb into a red Toyota pickup. Most were members of an extended family, returning home after running errands. The pickup was just large enough to accommodate the women and children, with the men piled into the back alongside the sacks of flour they had purchased. Their village, Gambir, was a 2 1/2-hour drive northwest on a rough and undulating road. The village had no electricity or running water, and whatever food that couldn’t be grown had to be brought in from town. To get a phone signal, you climbed a hill. To feel warm to the bone, you waited for spring.
The driver was a 26-year-old father of two named Abdul Rashid. Because the road into Pech Valley toward Gambir was famously treacherous, a kind of buddy system had developed among cab drivers. That morning, Abdul Rashid had been trying to coordinate the journey with his friend and relative, Mohibullah, but by early afternoon, he had decided to go ahead without him. The four children — including Abdul Rashid’s daughter, Aisha, age 4, and her baby brother, Jundullah, 18 months — were growing restless with the wait. Just after 3 p.m., the truck began to move.
Abdul Rashid stopped in the east end of Asadabad to pick up one last passenger, a woman traveling alone, before heading west. For the last three days, the drivers servicing the Pech had staged a strike to protest poor road conditions. September 7 was Rashid’s first day back on the job.