Bountygate 2.0: US Intelligence Claims Iran Paid Taliban to Kill American Troops in Afghanistan

Asia & Pacific

In June, the New York Times claimed, citing anonymous US intelligence sources, that Russia paid Taliban-linked militants bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Russia, the White House, the Pentagon and the Taliban themselves have since dismissed those allegations, with NYT later admitting it had no “direct evidence.”

The Iranian government offered bounties to Taliban militants to target US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, two intelligence sources said to be familiar with the matter have told CNN.

CNN cited a Pentagon briefing on the Bagram attack, which pointed to “bounties” but did not directly name the government thought to have paid them.

The Haqqani Network was formed in the 1980s and funded by the CIA in its war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but was designated a terrorist organization by the US in 2012 due to its operations against US and coalition forces following the NATO invasion.

Iran and the Taliban: Allies or Enemies?

Successive US administrations have repeatedly accused Iran of providing weapons and other support to the Taliban for its insurgent war against the NATO coalition. In early 2020, shortly after the US assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, Washington cited his alleged links to the Taliban as a justification for his killing.

Soleimani and the Quds Force have actually been fierce enemies of…

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