CIA Takes More Aggressive Role in Afghanistan

Monday, 23 Oct, 2017

The expanded assignments signal a shift in strategy at the CIA under its new director, Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChelsea Manning says she won't be "intimidated" by CIA Reports: CIA denies Senate Judiciary access to material on Russian interference Grassley meets Rosenstein amid tensions over probes MORE, according to two senior USA officials who spoke with the Times.

The CIA, in particular, has expanded its activity to hunt Taliban bomb makers, including during night raids, and by sending small units known as counterterrorism pursuit teams to take part in these operations, the officials told the media outlet. In Afghanistan, the fight against the Islamic State has also diverted C.I.A. assets.The expansion reflects the C.I.A.'s assertive role under its new director, Mike Pompeo, to combat insurgents around the world.

The CIA declined the newspaper's requests for comment on the matter. Previously, the CIA focused more on al-Qaeda and in assisting Afghan intelligence services, but the newspaper says the aggressive new turn fits in to President Trump's strategy of eventually bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

But Trump said in August that he would loosen restrictions on hunting down militants. The agency is already poised to broaden its program of covert drone strikes into Afghanistan; it had largely been centered on the tribal regions of Pakistan, with occasional strikes in Syria and Yemen.