National Security & Defense

Iran Paid Bounties to Taliban-Linked Terrorist Group after Attack on U.S. Base in Afghanistan: Report

U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army base in Logar Province, Afghanistan, August 7, 2018. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

Iran paid Taliban fighters to attack American soldiers and other coalition forces in Afghanistan, CNN reported on Monday.

U.S. intelligence has assessed that a foreign government paid fighters who took part in at least six attacks over the past year, including a December 2019 suicide bombing at the U.S. Air Base in Bagram, Afghanistan, that left two dead and over 70 injured. Four American servicemen were among the injured, while the remainder were Afghan civilians.

While the name of the foreign government remains classified, two intelligence officials told CNN that the nation behind the payments is Iran. The Bagram attack was carried out by fighters from the Haqqani network, led by the Taliban second-in-command Sirajuddin Haqqani.

National Security Council officials recommended in March of this year that the Trump administration not take action against the Iran-Haqqani collaboration because the move would likely jeopardize peace talks with the Taliban, according to an internal memo.

The news of possible Iranian bounties for Taliban fighters comes after reports in June that Russia had paid Afghan fighters to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that he had warned Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov against placing such bounties.

“If the Russians are offering money to kill Americans, or for that matter other Westerns as well, there will be an enormous price to pay. That’s what I shared with foreign minister Lavrov,” Pompeo told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Trump administration officials claimed in June that the president was never briefed on intelligence of Russian bounties, because that intelligence was not verified. However, the House Armed Services Committee voted in early July to approve additional conditions to be met before the U.S. withdraws any further troops from Afghanistan. Currently there are about 8,600 U.S. soldiers stationed in the country.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.