Shocking report reveals how Taliban may have gotten their hands on so many US weapons

Several Taliban leaders pictured Monday inside the vacated presidential palace in Kabul were carrying U.S. military rifles, leading some on social media to question how they came to obtain them.

For instance, law enforcement expert and retired FBI agent James A. Gagliano posted a photo of U.S.-armed Taliban leaders in the presidential palace, noting, “So disheartening to see Taliban fighters — armed w/U.S Military weapons systems, M-16s and M-4s (and no determination as to how/where they obtained them) — inside Afghan presidential palace following President Ashraf Ghani’s fleeing the country.”

In the past few days as the Taliban overran the country, easily capturing one major city and provincial capital after another, video clips of Taliban fighters taking possession of stores of U.S.-made weapons that once belonged to the Afghan National Army appeared on social media. So that could lead many to speculate that is how some Taliban fighters came into possession of American military rifles.

But according to a report Tuesday in  The Washington Post, there is another, more disturbing, explanation.

“The spectacular collapse of Afghanistan’s military that allowed Taliban fighters to walk into the Afghan capital Sunday despite 20 years of training and billions of dollars in American aid began with a series of deals brokered in rural villages between the militant group and some of the Afghan government’s lowest-ranking officials,” the paper reported.

“The deals, initially offered early last year, were often described by Afghan officials as cease-fires, but Taliban leaders were in fact offering money in exchange for government forces to hand over their weapons, according to an Afghan officer and a U.S. official.”

The Post’s report, if accurate, helps explain why the 300,000-strong Afghan National Army disintegrated in the face of a Taliban fighting force that was at least four times smaller, based on published information.

Continuing, the paper said during the previous 18-month period ahead of Kabul’s collapse over the weekend, meetings eventually took place at the district and provincial levels, “culminating in a breathtaking series of negotiated surrenders by government forces,” according to multiple interviews with Afghan soldiers, spec-ops troops, police and military officers.

The surrenders allowed Taliban forces to take over more than 12 provincial capitals and allowed them to easily enter Kabul without facing any resistance. The speed of the Taliban advance led to the rapid fleeing of Afghanistan’s president as well as most of his government. “Afghan security forces in the districts ringing Kabul and in the city itself simply melted away. By nightfall, police checkpoints were left abandoned and the militants roamed the streets freely,” the Post reported.

“Some just wanted the money,” one Afghan special forces officer told the Post regarding those who first agreed to meet with Taliban officials. But as soon as it became clear that the U.S. was going to pull out completely, others joined in the negotiations to ensure they were in good with the winning side.

“They saw that document as the end,” the officer told the Post, referring to how a majority of Afghans who were aligned with the central government viewed the Doha Agreement signed during the Trump administration, outlining conditions for the U.S. withdrawal.

“The day the deal was signed we saw the change. Everyone was just looking out for himself. It was like [the United States] left us to fail,” the officer told the Post, though the U.S. had committed American soldiers and tax dollars to training a viable Afghan security force for most of the 20 years the U.S. occupied the country.

The Post reported that many Afghan National Police officers also surrendered easily because they hadn’t been paid in six-to-nine months by the government. The report also opened more questions on how this was allowed to happen, seemingly under the noses of US intel.

Jon Dougherty

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