NATO officials say they were briefed on Russian bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan — even though Trump claims he wasn’t

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The New York Times reported on Friday that US intelligence found that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants in exchange for US casualties in Afghanistan.
The Times reported that US intelligence had briefed President Donald Trump on it. However, Trump said over the weekend he was not, saying US intelligence “did not find this info credible.”
Three NATO officials told Insider they had been briefed on the matter by US intelligence, with two saying they were told about a week ago.

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Three NATO officials say they had been briefed on intelligence that Russian operatives were secretly offering cash bounties to Taliban-linked militants for US casualties in Afghanistan — as President Donald Trump claimed he was not, and dismissed news reports on the intelligence as a “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax.”

The revelation that US intelligence had briefed the White House on the Taliban bounties had been a closely-held secret for several months, until US officials began briefing UK and other European allies last week.

The intelligence was first reported Friday in The New York Times and has since been widely confirmed.

Over the weekend, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed on the intelligence. And on Sunday, Trump tweeted that US intelligence “did not find this info credible” and did not report it to him or Pence, calling the Times report “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax.”

Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020

However, three NATO military officials told Insider on Monday they had been briefed by US intelligence of the potential threat, with two of them saying they were given the briefing about one week ago. None of the three officials have permission to be named in the press, but their identities are known to Insider.

“We were briefed [by the Americans] on a potential threat to our troops in Afghanistan from operatives potentially linked to the Russian intelligence services,” one NATO military intelligence official told Insider on Monday.

“There is no indication that our troops — or any non-US NATO troops — have been targeted in these attacks, but all NATO services with casualties in Afghanistan over the past two years are currently checking for any connections.”

Two other NATO officials — who represent countries with troops who regularly support the NATO mission in Afghanistan — confirmed similar briefings. Twenty-six coalition members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019.

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Multiple news organizations reported that US investigators are now investigating an April 2019 roadside bomb attack that killed three Marines as well as a number of “insider” attacks where Afghan troops turned on their Western trainers.

One of the intelligence officials, who is from a Western European …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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