This confirmed the conclusion of US intelligence based on the testimony of captured militants that Russia had secretly paid the Taliban for killing US and its coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.
Although the United States has previously accused Russia of supporting the Taliban in general, according to other intelligence, analysts have ruled that the charges in question were linked to the rewards promised for the lives of Americans and their allies.
Investigators identified several Afghans involved in the operation. Two of the three sources in The New York Times say it is believed that one of the Afghans is now living in Russia.
Russia and the Taliban have denied the existence of such payments. The White House has not denied media coverage of the intelligence findings, but said the intelligence was not considered sufficiently substantiated to “personally” inform U.S. President Donald Trump.
Several leading US media have confirmed from sources close to the administration that the information was included in the written presidential briefing reports that are prepared for the US president on a daily basis.
Two officials in The New York Times confirmed that the information had been included in a written report at the end of February.
Afghan officials confirmed this week that a number of local businessmen who had transferred money through the informal hawala system. They are suspected of acting as intermediaries between the Russian military intelligence service GRU and Taliban-linked militants.
A search of one businessman’s house has found half a million dollars, a provincial official told The New York Times. The newspaper had previously reported that the confiscation of a large sum of money was one of the first clues that prompted American analysts.
Three officials who told reporters in The New York Times that U.S. intelligence had intercepted payment data only agreed to speak anonymously.
The White House, the National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, declined to comment and pointed to previous statements by Ratcliffe and other officials that the media coverage of Afghanistan was insufficient.