WASHINGTON ? US military intelligence in Afghanistan is increasingly focused on uncovering corruption among members of the Afghan government, security forces and contractors, the New York Times reported Sunday.
A key goal to the US-led counter-insurgency campaign is to persuade the population to support the Kabul-based government rather than the Taliban so the anti-corruption efforts are just as important as battling insurgents, unnamed senior US officials told the newspaper.
"Where once our whole network was to capture and kill Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, now the information we?re trying to get is the information for the networks of corruption and government and influence," a senior US military officer in Afghanistan told the Times.
"The intelligence we were focused on before was just to drive the next target we were going to get," the officer said.
"Now our targeting is much more focused on the government: How do you control for corruption? How does the process work for security contracts?"
Graft watchdog Transparency International in its last annual report found that Afghanistan had the worst corruption of any country except Somalia, which has no functional government.
President Barack Obama's administration put a renewed focus on corruption when it took office last year, believing that the problem had grown so severe it was sapping Afghans' support for the West and its anti-Taliban campaign.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai pleaded for patience with his much-criticized fight against corruption on a visit to Washington in May, saying day-to-day victories might be more obvious to US eyes in "another few years."