Italia ville ikke ha tap i Afghanistan, og fant på en smart løsning: de betalte Taliban i sitt distrikt titusenvis av dollar. Men de glemte å fortelle franskmennene som overtok om hvorfor området var så fredelig, tilsynelatende. Resultatet var at 10 franske fallskjermjegere ble drept og 21 såret.
Military officials told The Times newspaper that the Italians had been paying the money to local insurgent commanders in Surobi, east of Kabul, to avoid politically-damaging Italian casualties.
However, the secret payments were kept hidden from French commanders who replaced the Italians in mid-2008, leaving them to misjudge disastrously the danger in the district, the paper said.
A month after the Italian troops departed, a lightly armed French patrol was ambushed and surrounded by an estimated 170 fighters. Ten paratroopers were killed and 21 wounded in the bloodiest day for the French forces in 25 years.
French outrage at the attack was heightened with the revelation some of the dead had been mutilated and the later emergence of photos of Taliban fighters posing in captured French uniforms.
According to the paper, US intelligence officials first discovered through intercepted phone calls that the payments had been made in Herat, western Afghanistan, then later discovered the tactic was being used in Surobi, 40 miles from the capital.
The Americans were so astonished by the Herat payments that they made a diplomatic protest to Silvio Berlusconi’s government in June 2008.
The Italians had hailed the area as a success for their hearts and minds offensive and the French thought they were moving into a peaceful district.
Italy denies report it paid off Taliban in Afghanistan
The Italian secret service paid Taliban fighters tens of thousands of dollars not to attack its forces in Afghanistan in a strategy that could have led to the deaths of ten French paratroopers, it has been claimed.