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Russia paid Taliban to target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, intelligence, report

The plot was reportedly led by the GRU, Russia's principal spy agency

Updated: June 27, 2020 - 12:00pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Russia's military intelligence bureau reportedly paid members of Afghanistan's Taliban to attack U.S. troops in that country, according to a U.S. report developed earlier this year. 

The report claims that the GRU, Russia's principal spy agency, offered payments to troops of the Islamic fundamentalist movement to specifically target American forces. The Taliban in Afghanistan has been a target of the U.S. for nearly 20 years as part of the American War on Terror, launched after the September 11 attacks. 

It is not clear whether the payments resulted in American fatalities in Afghanistan. The intelligence briefing had allegedly been circulating among a small number of individuals in Washington before The New York Times reported Friday.

Intelligence officials in recent years have claimed to have seen Russian military equipment in the hands of Taliban troops, suggesting Moscow may be taking a more proactive role in the conflict than even the recent report would imply. 

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