Iran paid bounties for targeting US troops, intelligence reports

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U.S. intelligence reportedly said the Iranian government offered bounties to Taliban fighters to target U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.A Pentagon backgrounder says a foreign government paid the Haqqani network, led by a senior Taliban leader, to attack Bagram air base last December, CNN reported. While the government in question is filed in the memo, two sources close to intelligence told the network it was referring to Iran.

Four U.S. personnel and more than 75 others were injured in the Bagram attack, which occurred less than a month before the United States killed General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force , during a drone strike in Baghdad. An official in the current administration and a former senior official told CNN that Iran-Taliban relations were cited as part of the justification for the strike against Soleimani.

In March 2020, the Defense Department reportedly made the decision not to take any specific action in response to the intelligence to avoid complicating peace talks with the Taliban. National Security Council officials have recommended not to strike and also said the escalation of the coronavirus pandemic would likely limit the Afghan government’s options for a diplomatic response, according to the network.

The briefing document stated that the Bagram attack likely qualified for foreign government compensation “depending on the nature of the attack and the bounties agreed upon.” Although U.S. intelligence said the Haqqani Network had reason to target the base without financial motivation, CNN noted that the document states that the alleged funding “likely incites future high-level attacks against U.S. forces and the United States. coalition ”.

Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Rob Lodewick told CNN that “the Defense Department does not disclose timelines or discussions surrounding internal deliberations and intelligence briefings. ”

However, he said, “the administration has repeatedly called, both in public and in private, that Iran end its scourge of malicious and destabilizing behavior throughout the Middle East and in the world. As the United States, its NATO allies and coalition partners work to facilitate the end of 19 years of bloodshed, Iran’s hostile influence seeks to undermine the peace process afghanistan and fostering continued violence and instability. ”

The report comes shortly after reports of similar bounties offered by Russia, which the Kremlin has denied.

The Hill has contacted the Pentagon for comment.



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