According to the New York Times, Afghan contractor Rahmatullah Azizi was the one who delivered cash from the Russian GRU to the Taliban for their pledge to kill American soldiers for the Russians.
“He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say,” about Azizi. Then he started working on projects that involved funneling money into projects in Afghanistan.
“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,” the Times reported. “What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.”
Officials in both the U.S. and Afghanistan have been warning about the scheme for years. But it was only after the Times broke the story, that elected officials, including President Donald Trump, seemed to learn about it.
According to Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, who appeared on MSNBC Wednesday, the funds were being sent from Russia regardless of whether the Taliban followed through with killing soldiers or not. There was no report back to the GRU about casualties. The money continued to flow.
“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,” said the Times. “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.”