Following reports in the New York Times that US intelligence monitored electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, a source on Thursday confirmed to TOLOnews that the man who controls the transaction is named Rahmat Sia and he is the owner of a construction company.
Rahmatullah Azizi is his given name, but he is known as Rahmat Sia. He lives in Russia.
According to the source, Rahmatullah’s brother, his driver, his cousin and a Forex dealer have been arrested by the Afghan security forces in PD4 of Kabul city.
The New York Times article said: “Afghan officials this week described a sequence of events that dovetailed with the account of the intelligence. They said that several businessmen who transfer money through the informal “hawala” system were arrested in Afghanistan over the past six months and were suspected of being part of a ring of middlemen who operated between the Russian intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U., and Taliban-linked militants. The businessmen were arrested in what the officials described as sweeping raids in the north of Afghanistan as well as in Kabul.”
“The Taliban are getting help from across the border and also from the regional intelligence,” said Rabbani Rabbani, a member of the provincial council in Kunduz, a province in the north.
According to the New York Times, the security forces seized $500,000 million during an operation at the house of Rahmatullah in Kunduz province.
The New York Times also said that Rahmatullah changed from a small drug smuggler to a contractor and businessman.
“There has been a war in Afghanistan for years when the Russians were ruling here, the Americans were doing the same thing, now, also, we can't reject that Russia is doing the same thing against the Americans,” said Shah Khan Sherzad, a lawmaker from Kunduz.
Local residents in the area in Kunduz have said that no one is living in the four-story building that belongs to Rahmatullah after the military operation.
According to the source, Rahmatullah was not stable economically in the initial days the US forces came to Afghanistan, however, later on, he obtained several contracts from the German forces in Kunduz and received a lot of money and then established a construction company in 2008.
“I think it is not a new trend, it's not a new thing, it's a strategic war between the US and the former Soviet Union that has been underway for years,” said Amanullah Barakzai, the former deputy head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
“In the past, the Americans were giving money to kill the Russians in Afghanistan, now--based on the New York Times claim--the Russians provide money to kill the Americans. In both cases, it is only Afghanistan which is the location of the killings,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a military expert in Kabul.
Russia Engaged in Afghanistan is "Nothing New": Pompeo
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, in remarks to the press on the reports of Russian bounties for Taliban fighters who kill Americans, said: "The fact that the Russians are engaged in Afghanistan in a way that's adverse to the United States is nothing new."
“Some members of Congress who are out there today suggesting that they are shocked and appalled by this, they saw the same intelligence that we saw. So it would be interesting to ask them what they did when they saw whatever intelligence it is that they are referring to,” Pompeo said.
“They would have had access to this information as well – not just the intelligence committees, by the way – even more broadly than that,” he said.
According to a New York Times article citing three anonymous American officials, US intelligence monitored electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, which the Times offers as evidence potentially supporting allegations that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing US and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
The Taliban and Russia have rejected the allegations.
Trump said on Wednesday he was not told about a reported Russian effort to get the Taliban to kill US soldiers because many US intelligence officials doubted its veracity, a stance contradicted by four US and European sources and by its inclusion in a widely read CIA report in May, Reuters reported.
“We never heard about it because intelligence never found it to be of that level,” he told Fox Business Network. “The intelligence people... many of them didn’t believe it happened at all.”
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said the United States must immediately impose sanctions on Russia.
The White House said Pelosi and other congressional leaders will receive a briefing on Thursday.