Monday, July 20, 2020

Is Russia Paying The Taliban Bounties To Kill U.S. troops?: Until Verified, Can The United States Negotiate Counterterrorism With Putin, A Cold-Blooded KGB Killer?

Washington Times columnist Daniel N. Hoffman, a retired CIA officer, offers a column on the reports that Russia is paying a bounty on American troops in Afghanistan.

In 2018, Gen. John Nicholson, then the commander of all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, issued a stark warning about Russia’s “destabilizing activity” in Afghanistan.

Russian forces, the general charged, were conducting training exercises on the Afghan border with Tajikistan and purposely leaving some of their equipment, including night-vision goggles and small arms, behind for Taliban forces battling U.S. and coalition troops and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

For years, Russia has provided training and financial assistance to Taliban fighters, and in September 2019 hosted members of the Taliban for peace talks in Moscow. And now we have learned — based on tactical intelligence obtained from captured Taliban militants — that KGB operative-in-the-Kremlin Vladimir Putin may have authorized the Russian military intelligence service, known as the GRU, to pay “bounties” to Taliban fighters who kill U.S. troops.

If there is one thing I learned during the three years serving in war zones, it’s that captured fighters can be a valuable source of intelligence, but often that they seek as much to influence as to inform their captors.

The threshold for sharing so-called duty to warn intelligence, however, is understandably very low, and the U.S. intelligence community immediately disseminated the finding to U.S. and coalition forces in harm’s way — even before confirming its veracity.

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