Saturday, January 23, 2021

Not Russia, But Iran Placed Bounties On “American Heads” In Afghanistan – Reports

A new U.S. intelligence report indicates that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for attacking US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Earlier, there were reports that Russia could have paid the Taliban to attack US soldiers. 

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According to reports, Iran distributed propaganda leaflets in Afghanistan via its state-sponsored proxies urging people to target U.S. led coalition forces, and the American intelligence agencies were ‘well-aware’ about the Iranian hand.

A Pentagon briefing document only mentioned that a foreign government paid the Haqqani Network to attack Bagram Airbase last December, while experts familiar with the matter were assured that the country mentioned was Iran.

According to a source speaking to Business Insider, Iran is not hiding the fact of putting bounties on American Soldiers. “They weren’t hiding it: ‘If you bring us American heads, we will pay you”, he said, on a condition of anonymity.

The issue has been well-known to intelligence agencies, however, the rapid scale was surprising. “I couldn’t believe that it was happening out in the open and notoriously. And the Afghans that were bringing it to me because they knew … and they wanted to make sure the US government was tracking on this. All I could tell them was that they were aware and hopefully it gets resolved”, said the source.

The disclosure that Iran might have funded the Taliban follows the dispute over Russian bounties for attacking US troops, an issue that has been repeatedly downplayed by the Trump administration in recent weeks. Russia also rejected the allegations.

In 2010, reports surfaced that Iran offered a $1,000 bounty for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan and the country. Iran has been often accused by the British and US governments supporting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Apart from a bounty on soldiers’ heads, Iran also allegedly offered $6,000 for the destruction of an American military vehicle.

Iran has been accused of using proxies around the world engaged to secure its national interests, like Hezbollah in Syria and Houthis in Yemen – engaged in a bitter proxy war with its rivals i.e. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

In Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan have been suspected of having ties with the dreaded Haqqani Network – designated as a terrorist organization with a bounty of $10 million on its leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Iranian aid has been linked to at least six attacks carried out in 2019, reported CNN.

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