Afghan Contractor Handed Out Russian Cash to Kill Americans, Officials Say

Source: The New York Times - View Original Article
Published: Jul 13, 2020
Category:
Bias Rating:

69% Liberal


Bias Score Calculation:

This article includes the following sentiments, providing an average bias score of 69% Liberal:

  • 1 positive sentiment for Iran


Policies:

Iran

Sentiments

  •   Liberal
  •   Neutral
93% "Through a layered and complex Hawala system -- an informal way to transfer money -- he delivered it to Afghanistan for the missions, the files say."
92% "Some of the attacks believed to be part of the bounty scheme were carried out around the time the Trump administration was actively reaching out to Russia for cooperation on those peace talks."
88% "Criminal networks, profiteers and terror training experts also freelance their services -- often to several groups at the same time."
77% "But in recent years, as the two powers clashed elsewhere, the Kremlin grew wary of the prolonged United States presence and moved closer to the Taliban, hedging its bets on who would take power in a post-American Afghanistan."
75% "None of those interviewed who know Mr. Azizi were surprised when his associates were raided about six months ago and one of his brothers taken into custody with the half a million dollars in cash."
69% "A friend who has known him since his early days in Kunduz, as well as later in Russia, said he had started off with smuggling small shipments of drugs into Iran in his 20s, but that venture not very successful."
59% "Russia has walked a fine balance in recent years, eager to bloody the American nose, but wary of Afghanistan collapsing into a chaos that could spill over its borders."
57% "The target of the operation was Rahmat, who was going back and forth to Russia for a long time and said he worked there but no one knew what he did, said Safiullah Amiry, the deputy head of Kunduz provincial council, referring to Mr. Azizi."
-51% "But officials say the network had grown increasingly ambitious and was in communication with more senior levels in Taliban military ranks to discuss potential targets."
-61% "The transfers were often sliced into smaller amounts that routed through several regional countries before arriving in Afghanistan, associates of the arrested businessmen said."
-72% "Details of Mr. Azizi's role in the bounty scheme were confirmed through a dozen interviews that included U.S. and Afghan officials aware of the intelligence and the raids that led to it; his neighbors and friends; and business associates of the middle men arrested on suspicion of involvement."
-74% "That a conduit for the payments would be someone like Mr. Azizi -- tied to the American reconstruction effort, enmeshed in the regional netherworld, but not prominent enough to attract outside attention -- speaks to the depth of Russia's reach into the increasingly complicated Afghan battlefield, exploiting a nexus of crime and terror to strike blows with years of deniability."
-83% "Publicly, Russia has admitted only to information-sharing with the Taliban in fighting the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a common foe."
-92% "The U.S. conclusion in 2019 that the Russians were sending bounty money to the Taliban came at a delicate time in the conflict, just as the United States was deep into negotiations with the insurgents over a deal to withdraw the remaining American troops from the country."
-93% "All spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation."

We have listed the top 15 sentiments. More sentiments do exist. Please review the full article for more information.



*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization

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Contributing sentiments towards policy:

93% : Through a layered and complex Hawala system -- an informal way to transfer money -- he delivered it to Afghanistan for the missions, the files say.
92% : Some of the attacks believed to be part of the bounty scheme were carried out around the time the Trump administration was actively reaching out to Russia for cooperation on those peace talks.
88% : Criminal networks, profiteers and terror training experts also freelance their services -- often to several groups at the same time.
85% : Michael Schwirtz contributed reporting.
84% : He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.
83% : He had returned to northern Afghanistan, and somehow won contracts from the American-led coalition forces to build stretches of a couple roads in Kunduz, before making his way to Russia.
82% : The Russians also saw an opportunity for long-awaited payback for the Soviet humiliation in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when the Red Army withdrew after being unable to defeat a United States-backed insurgency.
77% : But in recent years, as the two powers clashed elsewhere, the Kremlin grew wary of the prolonged United States presence and moved closer to the Taliban, hedging its bets on who would take power in a post-American Afghanistan.
75% : The Afghan battlefield is saturated with smaller terrorist groups in addition to the Taliban, who are still responsible for the majority of the violence.
75% : None of those interviewed who know Mr. Azizi were surprised when his associates were raided about six months ago and one of his brothers taken into custody with the half a million dollars in cash.
74% : U.S. intelligence reports named Mr. Azizi as a key middleman between the G.R.U. and militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks.
74% : But by the time the raid took place, "Rahmat had fled.
72% : KABUL, Afghanistan --
72% : According to officials briefed on the matter, U.S. intelligence officials believe the program is run by Unit 29155, an arm of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U. that has carried out assassinations and other operations overseas.
71% : American and Afghan officials for years have maintained that Russia was running clandestine operations to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and aid the Taliban.
69% : On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.
69% : A friend who has known him since his early days in Kunduz, as well as later in Russia, said he had started off with smuggling small shipments of drugs into Iran in his 20s, but that venture not very successful.
68% : But he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious.
68% : As security agencies connected the dots of the bounty scheme and narrowed in on him, they carried out sweeping raids to arrest dozens of his relatives and associates about six months ago, but discovered that Mr. Azizi had sneaked out of Afghanistan and was likely back in Russia.
64% : The public revelation last week of that conclusion has touched off a political firestorm in Washington.
62% : Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.
62% : He was among those who collected the cash in Russia, which the intelligence files seen by lawmakers in Washington describe as multiple payments of "hundreds of thousands of dollars.
59% : Russia has walked a fine balance in recent years, eager to bloody the American nose, but wary of Afghanistan collapsing into a chaos that could spill over its borders.
57% : "The target of the operation was Rahmat, who was going back and forth to Russia for a long time and said he worked there but no one knew what he did," said Safiullah Amiry, the deputy head of Kunduz provincial council, referring to Mr. Azizi.
52% : "From what I heard from security officials, the money had come from Russia through Rahmat," he added.
52% : Mr. Azizi, who neighbors and relatives said is in his 40s, thrived in that convoluted, murky environment.
49% : Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets.
49% : But officials say the network had grown increasingly ambitious and was in communication with more senior levels in Taliban military ranks to discuss potential targets.
44% : Just how the money was dispersed to militants carrying out attacks for the Taliban, and at what level the coordination occurred, remains unclear.
39% : The transfers were often sliced into smaller amounts that routed through several regional countries before arriving in Afghanistan, associates of the arrested businessmen said.
38% : White House officials said at first that President Trump was never briefed on the matter, but it emerged that the intelligence assessment was included in a written briefing to the president in late February, if not earlier.
38% : About six months ago, Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, raided the offices of several Hawala businessmen both in Kabul, the capital, and in Kunduz, in the north, who were believed to be associated with the bounty scheme, making more than a dozen arrests.
36% : As one of his friends put it, he had gone from "not even having a blanket" to having multiple houses, fancy cars, and security escorts.
34% : What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.
32% : Russia was initially seen as cooperating with American efforts after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as its interests in defeating Al Qaeda, an international Islamist terror group, aligned with those of the United States.
28% : Details of Mr. Azizi's role in the bounty scheme were confirmed through a dozen interviews that included U.S. and Afghan officials aware of the intelligence and the raids that led to it; his neighbors and friends; and business associates of the middle men arrested on suspicion of involvement.
26% : That a conduit for the payments would be someone like Mr. Azizi -- tied to the American reconstruction effort, enmeshed in the regional netherworld, but not prominent enough to attract outside attention -- speaks to the depth of Russia's reach into the increasingly complicated Afghan battlefield, exploiting a nexus of crime and terror to strike blows with years of deniability.
25% : Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy leading the talks, repeatedly met with Russian officials to build consensus around the American endgame.
21% : But they only recently concluded a Russian spy agency was paying bounties for killing coalition troops, including Americans, which the Kremlin and the Taliban have denied.
17% : Publicly, Russia has admitted only to information-sharing with the Taliban in fighting the Islamic State in Afghanistan, a common foe.
13% : As Democratic and Republican officials have expressed alarm at the news, and the administration's lack of action in response, the White House has insisted that the information was uncertain.
8% : The U.S. conclusion in 2019 that the Russians were sending bounty money to the Taliban came at a delicate time in the conflict, just as the United States was deep into negotiations with the insurgents over a deal to withdraw the remaining American troops from the country.
7% : All spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation.

*Our bias meter rating uses data science including sentiment analysis, machine learning and our proprietary algorithm for determining biases in news articles. The rating is an independent analysis and is not affiliated nor sponsored by the news source or any other organization

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