Did Italian Intel Bribes to Taliban Kill French Soldiers?
It’s hard to know what to make of this, but The Times of London has an explosive and very detailed story claiming that Italian intelligence operatives paid bribes to Taliban fighters who ended up brutally killing and mutilating eight French soldiers in Afghanistan last year. The Italian government strenuously denies the charges. But if the story is correct, the Italians did not tell a French unit operating in the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, that the payments, intended to pacify the militants, had occurred. It is unclear from the piece what exactly spurred the Taliban attack — either an abrupt discontinuity of payment or an unaware French attack spurring Taliban anger over a perceived double-cross.
Even assuming this is true, the story has no real implication for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s efforts at reconciliation with lower- to mid-level Taliban fighters. Well, no implication beyond this observation:
“One cannot be too doctrinaire about these things,” a senior Nato officer in Kabul said. “It might well make sense to buy off local groups and use non-violence to keep violence down. But it is madness to do so and not inform your allies.”