Among the intelligence reports on possible Russian gifts for Taliban fighters who kill Americans in Afghanistan, the father of a marine who died in a bomb attack there last year wants answers.
25 year old son of Erik Hendriks, Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks was among the three marines who were killed in the bomb attack on a convoy outside the Bagram airfield.
Hendriks said he learned news of possible payments to Taliban-linked militants in a reporter’s call on Monday.
If the reports are true, “it would break my heart,”
Robert A. Hendriks – his father calls him Robby – was killed on April 8, 2019, while conducting combat operations in the Parwan province, the Defense Department said. The sergeant was also killed. Benjamin S. Hines, 31 years old and Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43.
NBC News has not confirmed a link between the April 2019 bomb attack and any alleged offering of gifts by Russian intelligence officials. Two senior administration officials said Monday that the White House does not believe there is a link.
Hendricks said he hadn’t heard from the president directly. “Why didn’t anyone call me or my ex-wife to fix us? Isn’t the hell we’re going through enough that nobody came forward with anything?” churches. “It’s really horrible.”
Since the end of last week, several media outlets, including NBC News, have reported that the United States has collected information that Russian intelligence officers have offered to pay gifts to Taliban fighters who kill Americans. The news was first reported on Friday by the New York Times.
The White House has denied that President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence have been informed of the matter.
Also the director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe denied late Saturday that Trump had been informed. Trump tweeted Sunday that “Intel just told me that he didn’t find this information credible” and that therefore it had not been reported to him or to Pence.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday that the president had been informed. “But that doesn’t change the fact that there is no consensus on this intelligence that has yet to be verified,” he said.
An official familiar with intelligence said it shows that US service members and Afghan civilians died as a result of Russian payments to the Taliban, but other officials said intelligence has not been confirmed.
A person with direct intelligence knowledge told NBC News that the White House and senior officials from the National Security Council learned about intelligence, indicating that Russia was offering gifts to the United States and coalition troops at the beginning of the ‘Last year.
Representative Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said senior officials told lawmakers in the White House plight room that “nobody was killed” following Russia’s offering of gifts. But other U.S. officials said it is unclear, and others said that the Russian effort may indeed have led to death.
Russia has denied the accusations, as have the Taliban. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the news “ridiculous” and “100 percent bulls —“.
Hendriks, speaking on the phone from his home in Glen Cove, New York, located on Long Island, said Tuesday that he is waiting for the facts.
“I’m waiting to see if there is a smoking gun,” he said. “Someone will take a step forward, who knows it as a fact?”
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Hendriks said his questions are not based on politics. He said he hadn’t voted since Ross Perot ran for president in the 1990s. He said he leans over to Trump and likes the president’s message to lure troops into Afghanistan, but he also fears that it will destabilize the region and put Americans at risk of attacks at home.
Hendriks sometimes spoke through tears. He said he wants to focus on his son and on serving his son in the country.
Hendriks said former Defense Secretary James Mattis sent him a handwritten letter calling his son a “Marine’s Marine”.
The answers would help Hendriks find peace. “Seeing if this is true means doing justice to Robby,” he said.