Trump learns that Russia may be paying Taliban to kill US troops, does nothing

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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On or around February 27, U.S. intelligence officials alert Donald Trump that Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU) paid bounties to “Taliban-linked militants” to kill American troops in Afghanistan. Neither Trump nor others in the administration retaliate or formally acknowledge the bounties by Russia.

Investigators believe the first attack may have been in April 2019 when a car bombing killed three Marines.

When the news breaks in June, Trump’s White House tries to downplay the intelligence claims, and Trump says he was never informed of the bounties.

But that stance clashed with the disclosure by two officials that the intelligence was included months ago in Mr. Trump’s President’s Daily Brief document — a compilation of the government’s latest secrets and best insights about foreign policy and national security that is prepared for him to read. One of the officials said the item appeared in Mr. Trump’s brief in late February; the other cited Feb. 27, specifically.

The New York Times

U.S. intelligence even obtains bank records showing the payments and identifies specific suspects. Over the next five months, several businessmen are arrested in Afghanistan after evidence points to them working as middlemen between Russia’s GRU and the Taliban.

In 2021, new reporting from the intelligence community concludes that, while there is evidence of likely bounties, there is not definitive proof.

“The United States intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks on U.S. and coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019 and perhaps earlier,” a senior administration official said.

The Daily Beast

External Sources

Memorandum (Archived)

The New York Times 1 (Archived)

The New York Times 2 (Archived)

The New York Times 3 (Archived)

The Daily Beast (Archived)

Photo: Gage Skidmore

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