Russian Bounties to Taliban: Intel Official Says Allegations ‘Uncorroborated’

Policy


Members of the Taliban hand over their weapons in Jalalabad, Afghanistan June 25, 2020.
(Parwiz/Reuters)

A U.S. intelligence official claims that intelligence reports alleging Russia offered bounty payments to Taliban militants to target American forces in Afghanistan were “uncorroborated” and hence not presented to President Trump as part of his briefings on national security matters.

The unidentified intelligence official told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge that the National Security Agency assessed that the intelligence collection report “does not match well-established and verifiable Taliban and Haqqani practices” and lacks “sufficient reporting to corroborate any links.” The report reached “low levels” of the National Security Council but did not travel further up the chain of command — and was not included in briefings with the president or vice president — because it was deemed “uncorroborated” and there was dissent in the intelligence community about the veracity of the allegations.

Last week, reports broke that U.S. intelligence found that at least one American soldier, as well as a number of Afghan civilians, died as a result of secret bounty payments that Russia paid to Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

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Several American service-members died as a result of monetary rewards that a Russian military intelligence unit offered to terrorist militants to target U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported.

A similar report in the New York Times said that President Trump was briefed on the bounty allegations — a claim the White House denied.

Trump said in a tweet Sunday night that intelligence officials did not brief him on the allegations because they did not find them “credible,” adding that the information was “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax.”

“Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump administration,” he added in another tweet.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the matter and said the intelligence about the alleged Russian bounty payments has not been verified.

“There is no consensus within the intelligence community on these allegations,” McEnany said. “There are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regards to the veracity of what’s being reported, and the veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have demanded answers about the reports of alleged Russian bounty payments.

Representative Liz Cheney, who ranks third in House GOP leadership, called on the White House to explain why the president and vice president were not briefed on the intelligence as well as what has been done to protect American forces and hold Russia accountable if the intelligence is true.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both called for briefings on the matter for all members of their respective chambers.

“The administration’s disturbing silence and inaction endanger the lives of our troops and our coalition partners,” Pelosi said.

The U.S. has long accused Moscow of supporting the Taliban with weapons and other aid but has never accused Russia of soliciting Taliban members with bounties to kill U.S. forces and allies.

The Kremlin has denied the reports that it solicited militants with bounties to target American forces.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.




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