South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican who is an outspoken supporter of Mr. Trump, but sometimes tries to push him into more Hawkish positions – such as against his plan to withdraw from Syria – said on Twitter that he wanted the administration to take intelligence assessment seriously and to inform Congress of the matter.
“I expect the Trump administration to take such allegations seriously and to inform Congress immediately of the reliability of this news,” Graham wrote.
The United States concluded months ago that the Russian intelligence agency, which has been linked to attacks and other covert operations in Europe to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, has been offering covert rewards for successful attacks last year would have.
In response to the intelligence assessment, senior officials developed a number of potential options – starting with a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and calling to end it, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other more aggressive possible responses, the well-known officials said with internal considerations.
But the White House has yet to take a step, officials said in the past few days.
It is believed that militant Islamists or armed criminal elements closely related to them have raised bounty, officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in fighting in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which murders were suspected.
Officials familiar with the intelligence agency did not explain the White House’s delay in deciding how to respond to the intelligence agency through Russia.
Afghanistan was previously the scene of proxy battles between Washington and Moscow. In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union was engulfed in its own bloody war, the United States covertly helped arm the Mujahideen to fight the Red Army in one of the last major Cold War confrontations.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Russia largely supported American efforts to destroy Al Qaeda and overthrow the Taliban government. Russia declared the Taliban a terrorist organization in 2003, but their relationship has warmed recently and the Taliban leaders have traveled to Moscow for peace talks.
Fatima Faizi reported from Kabul, Afghanistan.