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World Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, according to intelligence assessments

03:26  29 june  2020
03:26  29 june  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

White House denies it was briefed about Afghan militant bounties

  White House denies it was briefed about Afghan militant bounties White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied a Friday report from the New York Times that President Trump and Vice President Pence were briefed on American intelligence findings that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan, including US troops, amid peace talks.Citing White House officials briefed on the matter, the Times reported that Trump and Pence were briefed on the intelligence findings and that the White House's National Security Council held a meeting about the issue in late March.

WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban - linked militants for Any involvement with the Taliban that resulted in the deaths of American troops would also be a huge escalation of Russia ’ s so-called

American officials said the Russian plot to pay bounties to Taliban fighters came into focus over the last several months after intelligence analysts and Special Operations forces put together key pieces of Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U . S . Troops , Intelligence Says.

Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

a group of people wearing military uniforms © Provided by The Washington Post

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under the program. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed this year. In each of those years, several service members were also killed by what are known as “green on blue” hostile incidents by Afghan security forces who are sometimes believed to have been infiltrated by the Taliban.

'Outrageous' Trump reportedly didn't respond to intel on threats on US troops: Pelosi

  'Outrageous' Trump reportedly didn't respond to intel on threats on US troops: Pelosi House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" it was "totally outrageous" that President Donald Trump did not respond to reports that Russian intelligence officers offered to pay Taliban-linked militants to target American troops, calling the lack of a U.S. response "appalling.""I don't know what the Russians have on the president politically, personally or whatever it is, but he wants to ignore" Russian wrongdoing, Pelosi said Sunday in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.

A Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered cash to Taliban - linked militants for successful attacks on coalition forces in the fall of 2019, as the US and Taliban engaged in talks to end a decades-long war, according to widely reported US intelligence assessments . Some bounty money was

Citing US intelligence officials – unnamed, of course – the New York Times reported that, last year, Moscow had “covertly offered rewards” to Taliban - linked militants to attack American troops and their NATO allies in Afghanistan. On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the NYT story as

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The intelligence was passed up from the U.S. Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan and led to a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March, the people said. 

The meeting led to broader discussions about possible responses to the Russian action, ranging from diplomatic expressions of disapproval and warnings, to sanctions, according to two of the people. These people and others who discussed the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because of its sensitivity.

Trump says spies deemed Russia-Taliban intel not 'credible'

  Trump says spies deemed Russia-Taliban intel not 'credible' Donald Trump said he was not briefed on US intelligence related to Russian activity in Afghanistan because it was not thought "credible" by the secret services. According to the Times report, US intelligence had concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan. The rewards were purportedly incentives to target American forces as Trump tries to withdraw soldiers from the conflict-torn country -- one of the militants' key demands -- and end America's longest war.

Russian spy unit paid taliban to attack us troops , us intelligence says. Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide have "President Trump was cozying up to Putin and inviting him to the G7 all while his Administration reportedly knew Russia was trying to kill U . S troops

Russia has denied reports that it offered Taliban - linked militants bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan. Citing US officials, The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that a Russian military intelligence unit offered the alleged bounties last year.

The disturbing intelligence — which the CIA was tasked with reviewing, and later confirmed — generated disagreement about the appropriate path forward, a senior U.S. official said. The administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, preferred confronting the Russians directly about the matter, while some National Security Council officials in charge of Russia were more dismissive of taking immediate action, the official said.

It remained unclear where those discussions have led to date. Verifying such intelligence is a process that can take weeks, typically involving the CIA and the National Security Agency, which captures foreign cellphone and radio communications. Final drafting of any policy options in response would be the responsibility of national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien.

The CIA assessment took some time, and coincided with the scaling back and slowing down of a number of government functions as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold, two people said.

Taliban reaffirm commitment to US deal in Pompeo call

  Taliban reaffirm commitment to US deal in Pompeo call The Taliban reaffirmed their commitment to a February deal to draw down the war in Afghanistan during a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the group's spokesman has said. The discussion came as US President Donald Trump faces mounting pressure to explain why he did nothing after being reportedly told that Russian spies had offered and paid cash to Taliban-linked militants for killing American soldiers.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U . S . intelligence has concluded that the Russian military offered bounties to Taliban - linked militants in Afghanistan to kill American troops and Islamist militants , or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U . S . intelligence has concluded that the Russian military offered bounties to Taliban - linked militants in Afghanistan to kill American Islamist militants , or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the

Asked to comment, an NSC spokesman said that “the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” The CIA and the Defense and State departments declined to comment.

Russia and the Taliban have denied the existence of the program.

Among the coalition of NATO forces in Afghanistan, the British were briefed late last week on the intelligence assessment, although other alliance governments were not formally informed. The New York Times first reported the existence of the bounty program on Friday evening.

But as more details have unfolded, the primary controversy in Washington over the weekend revolved around denials by President Trump and his aides that the president was ever briefed on the intelligence and if not, why not, and what is he doing about it?

Trump on Sunday confirmed statements by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and the White House press secretary that he received no briefing on the subject, and he referred in tweets to “what are known as reports” by “Fake News.”

“Nobody briefed or told me, [Vice President] Pence or Chief of Staff [Mark Meadows] about the what are known as attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News . . . Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us,” Trump said on Twitter, insisting that “nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump administration.”

Intercepted financial data raised suspicions about Russian bounties: report

  Intercepted financial data raised suspicions about Russian bounties: report Large financial transfers intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies led to raised suspicions about Russian bounties, according to The New York Times. © Getty Images Intercepted financial data raised suspicions about Russian bounties: report The Times reported on Friday that President Trump was provided with written briefs on intelligence that Russia offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Russia had offered bounties to Taliban - linked militants if they killed US soldiers in Afghanistan. The rewards purportedly gave incentives to the guerrillas to target US forces, just as Trump tries to withdraw troops -- meeting one of the militants ' key demands -- and end America' s longest war.

Russia placed bounty on U . S . troops : Intelligence officials believe a Russian military unit offered bounties to Taliban - linked militants to kill coalition It said Russia may also be seeking revenge over the US killing of Russian mercenaries in Syria, where Moscow backs President Bashar al-Assad.

But his Twitter remarks did little to clarify whether the administration was denying that the assessment existed, or simply denying that Trump knew anything about it. Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence until last month, tweeted that “I never heard this. And it’s disgusting how you continue to politicize intelligence.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday joined other lawmakers — including leading Republicans — in expressing concern and calling for the administration to provide Congress with an explanation.

“This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“But he wants to ignore,” she said, “he wants to bring them back to the G-8 despite the annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, despite what they yielded to [Putin] in Syria, despite [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] intervention into our election, which is well documented by our intelligence community and despite now possibly this allegation, which we should have been briefed on.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who golfed with the president Sunday, earlier tweeted that “I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports.”

Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill

  Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill House Democrats expect to address the intelligence showing Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops - as well as President Trump's handling of the issue - when they consider the annual defense policy bill Wednesday.In a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said he expects to offer an amendment with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) that would, among other things, require the administration provide Congress information about any bounty program and Russia's involvement in it.

In a second tweet, Graham said it was “Imperative Congress get to the bottom” of the Russian offer “to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-highest-ranking member of the House GOP leadership, also took to Twitter on Sunday to say that if the report of Russian bounties “is true, the White House must explain” why the president wasn’t briefed, who did know and when, and “what has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin responsible.”

A third person familiar with the issue said, “I don’t think that anybody withheld anything and screwed up by not getting to the president on time.” By the end of the process, the person said, the intelligence community was confident in its assessment.

The issue is not when the president was briefed, the person said, because the process worked as it should have, given the coronavirus delay and the need to draw up policy options.

“The issue now that you are aware of it, what are you going to do about it? That’s where the focus should be,” this person said.

In years past, there were persistent reports that Russia was supplying small arms to the Taliban. Carter Malkasian, who served as a senior adviser to the previous chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said Russia had cultivated a relationship with certain Taliban elements, largely in northern Afghanistan, beginning around 2015. The outreach was partly as a response to Moscow’s concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State militants in the region, and also a desire to see U.S. troops leave the region.

But more recently, U.S. officials said that Russia — which tried and failed to start its own Afghan peace process — has been cooperative and helpful since the Taliban signed a peace deal, including a plan for U.S. withdrawal, with the administration early this year.

Malkasian, now a scholar at the Center for Naval Analysis, said the bounty operation, if true, could be a “random” initiative, rather than one that reflected a well-coordinated program ordered by the highest levels of the government.

He said that a primary Russian goal in Afghanistan continues to be the exit of American forces, but not at any cost.

“They may want us out, and they may be happy to see a few Americans die,” he said, “but I don’t think they want to see the Taliban take over.”

Afghan contractor delivered Russian cash to the Taliban to target US soldiers: NYT .
Afghan contractor Rahmatullah Azizi was named in a U.S. intelligence report as one of the key middlemen who delivered cash from Russia’s GRU to the Taliban to target American troops, The New York Times reported Wednesday. © Getty Images Afghan contractor delivered Russian cash to the Taliban to target US soldiers: NYT American and Afghan officials reported that Azizi spent several years transferring money to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan. The Times reported the existence of the intelligence last week.

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