US intel shows Russian bounty for killing of American troops

American intelligence agencies found evidence of Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants to kill U.S. and other Western soldiers in Afghanistan, triggering a furor in Washington. President Donald Trump said he was never briefed on the intelligence.

Alex Brandon/AP
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn at the White House, June 25, 2020, in Washington. Mr. Trump has doubted the intelligence about Russian bounties placed on U.S. troops, but the report drew concerns among his fellow Republicans.

United States intelligence agencies found that Russian bounty offers to Taliban militants led to the deaths of several American soldiers, The Washington Post reported, as President Donald Trump sought to cast doubt on the information.

It was unclear how many U.S. or coalition troops may have been targeted or killed under the Moscow program, the Post said late Sunday, but the intelligence stemmed from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants and was passed up from U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan.

The New York Times separately reported that U.S. intelligence officials believe at least one American military death stemmed from the bounties, citing two officials briefed on the matter. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.

Mr. Trump early on Sunday said he was never briefed on the Russian bounty effort reported by the New York Times. As the report drew concerns even among his fellow Republicans, Mr. Trump later said intelligence officials told him he was not briefed because the information was not credible.

The Kremlin on Monday denied the bounty report, first published by The New York Times on Friday, that Russian forces had offered to pay Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and other Western soldiers in Afghanistan.

"These allegations are lies," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had never discussed the allegations.

Reports of the bounties triggered a furor in Congress, as both Republicans and Democrats demanded answers from the Trump administration.

The White House and the director of national intelligence over the weekend denied Mr. Trump was briefed but did not address the merits of the intelligence.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday called for a lawmakers to be briefed on the matter. The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration would brief some members of Congress on Monday.

The New York Times and the AP also reported U.S. military and intelligence officials were reviewing past casualties to see whether they were tied to Moscow's alleged payments.

One incident under review was an April 2019 attack by the Taliban on an American convoy that killed three U.S. Marines, the AP said, citing unidentified sources. Officials were also probing whether $500,000 found during a U.S. raid on a Taliban outpost earlier this year was tied to the program, it added.

This story was reported by Reuters. Reuters writer Anastasia Teterevleva contributed from Moscow.

Editor’s note: As a public service, the Monitor has removed the paywall for all our coronavirus coverage. It’s free.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.