The intelligence was included in the president’s briefing on Dec. 17, and Trump was verbally briefed on the matter by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, officials said.
Administration officials across multiple agencies are currently working to corroborate the initial intelligence reports.
Axios was not able to visually inspect any reports detailing the intelligence. A summary was described by phone by the officials.
One senior official involved in the latest China discussions, who described the uncorroborated intelligence to Axios, said: “Like all first reports, we react with caution to initial reports” but “any intel reports relating to the safety of our forces we take very seriously.”
Officials would not describe the source or sources of the intelligence or say when or over what period of time the activity occurred.
One said: “The U.S. has evidence that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempted to finance attacks on American servicemen by Afghan non-state actors by offering financial incentives or ‘bounties'” and said the National Security Council “is coordinating a whole-of-government investigation.”
He would not say whether he was referring to the Taliban, or go beyond the descriptor of “non-state actors.”
The timing of the alleged bounty offer is unclear. The source would say only that this happened some time after late February when the U.S. struck its deal with the Taliban. He also noted there had not been an American combat death in Afghanistan since.
He said the administration received earlier intelligence about “PRC weapons illicitly flowing into Afghanistan.”