Intelligence: December 13, 2001


Cooperation between the US and Russia during the Afghan War has been unprecedented both in its scope and in how much of it has been kept secret. Russian officers were sent to join the Northern Alliance armor and artillery units, improving their performance. Russian Spetznaz troops have been only too happy to raid camps of Chechen terrorists linked to bin Laden, and the US has quietly admitted that the best intelligence data it has on the top terrorists came by way of Russian commandoes capturing key documents and prisoners. The Russians have turned over much of the intelligence data they gathered during their own war in that country, as well as the data from a continuing intelligence operation almost unknown in the West. The Russians have been "keeping an eye" on Afghanistan since they pulled out, questioning refugees and buying information from local warlords. Even with this level of cooperation, the Russians are still in it for their own interests. The sudden deployment of a portable embassy into Kabul came without the prior knowledge or approval of Washington. American analysts are convinced that the Russians want to have a serious role in the formation of a new government in Afghanistan (one that is unlikely to harbor Islamic radicals who form a threat to the stability of the governments of the former-Soviet republics of Central Asia).--Stephen V Cole


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