News & Politics

Intel Reports Say Russians Paid the Taliban Bounties to Kill American Soldiers

Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew C. Lewellen past Army Secretary Eric Fanning, fifth from right, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, third from right, and Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, right, Army vice chief of staff, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

Russian intelligence agents paid Taliban fighters a bounty to kill U.S. and other coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to American intelligence, as reported in the New York Times.

The story said that the administration has known about the reports since March but is still trying to decide what to do about them.

New York Post:

Taliban-linked Islamist militants, as well as armed criminals closely associated with them, collected some of the bounty money, the intelligence officials said.

Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which of them could have been linked to Russia’s bounty.

Trump was briefed on the bounties, and the National Security Council discussed the problem in late March, the officials told The Times.

Apparently, because Trump didn’t break off relations with Russia or nuke Moscow right away, that means he’s in Putin’s pocket and the Russian collusion story was true.

Or, at least, that’s the word on the left.

Raw Story, with typical understatement, headlines its story, “‘Trump is owned by Putin’: President accused of ‘literal treason’ after bombshell NYT report on Russian assassination unit.”

The quote is from that well-known fabricator and fantasist Christopher Steele, so take it for what it’s worth. But “treason”? There are many good reasons why Trump hasn’t called a press conference and informed the world of Russian treachery. The most important reason is that exposing the truth may get one or more informants killed. Or it could reveal an information pipeline into the Kremlin — electronic intelligence or human intelligence — which would be compromised if the news got out.

Another reason is that there simply aren’t any good options, The options presented by the NSC to the president aren’t very satisfying.

The NSC brass developed potential options — from demanding that the Kremlin stop the practice to sanctions and other possible responses — but the White House has not approved of any action against Russia or President Vladimir Putin, a former top KBG official himself.

American and Afghan officials have long said that Russia was supporting the Taliban, but the revelation was the first time Russia had been accused of sponsoring armed attacks against American and NATO troops.

We’ve already sanctioned Russia and its leadership so we’ve nearly exhausted that avenue. There’s concern that going any farther in sanctioning Putin and his henchmen could cause a rupture in our relations. The left might like that, but it should be pointed out that Russia is a nuclear-armed power and we have to maintain some contact with them.

Trump may have decided to just let the reports slide, realizing doing nothing may be unsatisfying, but better than any other alternative. He did share the intel reports with the British government whose troops were also targeted in the operation. But this is one of those matters of state that get swept under the rug because doing anything at all will probably make the situation worse.