President Trump late Sunday said U.S. intelligence could not confirm an explosive story that Russian military officials offered bounties to militants linked to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The New York Times, citing unnamed officials, reported Friday that it is believed that some “Islamist militants” or “criminal elements” collected payouts. The report pointed out that 20 Americans were killed there in 2019. It was not clear if any of those deaths were the result of a bounty.
“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 @NYTimesbnooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad.”
TASS, the state news agency, reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports “information fakes.” A Taliban spokesman also denied any truth to the report.
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank, told the Wall Street Journal that “Moscow’s willingness to embrace the Taliban openly and publically dates back several years” and he would not be surprised if there is truth to the report.