Mother Of Marine Killed In Afghanistan Wants Probe Into Russian Bounty Claim

Corporal Robert Hendriks, Sergeant Benjamin Hines, and Staff Sergeant Christopher Slutman were killed by a car bomb in Afghanistan in April 2019.Screengrab / CBS New York / YouTube


Felicia Arculeo on her son Cpl. Hendriks: “At the end of the day, my son is still gone. He’s still not coming home.”

CNBC News reports that on June 29, a mother of a Marine killed in Afghanistan in April 2019 said that she wants a thorough investigation of the recent allegations that Taliban-linked fighters have been targeting American soldiers in order to collect a Russian bounty.

  • On June 26, the New York Times broke a story reporting that according to sources who spoke anonymously, Russian intelligence agencies have been offering bounties to Islamist militants in Afghanistan who kill United States soldiers.
  • The Times report also claimed that President Donald Trump had previously been briefed on the matter but has not yet decided how to react.
  • Other outlets, including NBC News, have confirmed through their own anonymous sources within the administration that there is intelligence to back up the claims.
  • Felicia Arculeo, who is the mother of Marine Corporal Robert Hendriks, said she “just happened to randomly see” news about the intelligence and “got pretty upset.”
  • Hendriks died along with two other Marines—Sergeant Benjamin Hines and Staff Sergeant Christopher Slutman—from a car bomb near Bagram Air Field in April 2019. CNBC explains that they were only days away from a scheduled return to the United States.
  • According to the Associated Press, the United States “is investigating whether Americans died” in this attack “because of the Russian bounties.”
  • Arculeo said of this, “Absolutely, that should be investigated.”
  • When asked what should happen if investigations did establish that Russia paid a bounty for her son’s death, Arculeo admitted, “Look, that’s a tough question.” She added, “At the end of the day, my son is still gone. He’s still not coming home.”

In response to a Tweet from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that it was “Imperative [that] Congress get to the bottom” of such reports, Trump Tweeted on June 28 that

Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!

Official channels from the White House have echoed these claims.

  • White House Spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on June 29 that “There was not a consensus among the intelligence community” about whether Russia did offer such bounty payments.
  • McEnany added, “And, in fact, there were dissenting opinions within the intelligence community, and it would not be elevated to the president until it was verified.”
  • However, although NBC’s sources have not been able to confirm “how persuasive” the intelligence is, former National Security Advisor John Bolton said on “Meet the Press” that it would be “disturbing” if Trump was not even briefed on the intelligence.

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