Afghanistan

Updated 3:15 a.m. ET Monday

In a tweet late Sunday night, President Trump said the intelligence community told him he was not briefed about allegations that Russia had offered the Taliban bounty payments to kill Western forces — including U.S. troops — because it did not find the reports credible.

When the Museum of the Bible opened three years ago, its founders aimed to engage a wider audience with the Bible and its thousands of years of history.

But the museum's ambitious goals have been overshadowed by a series of scandals, still unfolding, over antiquities — acquired in a five-year international shopping spree — that have turned out to be looted or fake.

Since the U.S. and the Taliban agreed to a deal that American officials applauded as a path to peace, Afghanistan has endured months of anything but. The spring has brought bloodshed, acrimony and few signs that the Afghan government and the Islamist militant group were any closer to reconciliation — until Sunday.

In Afghanistan, a group of teenage girls are trying to build a mechanized, hand-operated ventilator for coronavirus patients, using a design from M.I.T. and parts from old Toyota Corollas.

It sounds like an impossible dream, but then again, the all-girls robotics team in question is called the "Afghan Dreamers." Living a country where two-thirds of adolescent girls cannot read or write, they're used to overcoming challenges.

In a video recently sent to journalists from an Afghan prison, an inmate leans against a blue wall, struggling to breathe. "What's wrong with him?" one man asks. "Corona," another says.

Videos showing Afghan prisoners suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms have angered the Taliban, which has thousands of loyalists in government lockups.

April 2020 was a month Mohammad had yearned for. It was when he was set to fly to the U.S. with his wife and son to start a new life.

The Afghan had spent years painstakingly proving he was eligible for a special visa through his work as an interpreter with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and that he posed no danger to the American homeland.

"It took almost five years," he says with a sigh, speaking by phone from Afghanistan. He asks that NPR not use his full name because of threats from the Taliban against him.

Prisoners affiliated with the Taliban will soon be released from Afghan lockups, in a move that's likely to kick off peace talks between Afghanistan and the Islamist insurgent group. On Wednesday, a pair of Taliban spokesmen and a U.S. official confirmed the prisoner release — a key condition in the peace framework between the militants and the U.S. announced about a month ago.

More than two dozen people are dead after an attack Wednesday on a Sikh place of worship in Kabul. The assault on the temple in the Afghan capital left at least 25 people dead, another eight wounded and dozens more in need of rescue, according to the country's Ministry of Interior.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday a decision to slash $1 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan, saying that Washington is "disappointed" in the country's rival leaders, who have been unable to form a government following last year's disputed presidential elections.

The fragile peace deal taking shape in Afghanistan could spell the end of an era of for the U.S. military, one marked by efforts at nation-building and winning hearts and minds.

It appears that the Pentagon is also intent on ending a research program from that era — to fund social science for the military.

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