SRINAGAR, India — Weapons left behind by U.S. forces during the withdrawal from Afghanistan are surfacing in another conflict, further arming militants in the disputed South Asian region of Kashmir in what experts say could be just the start of the weapons’ global journey.
Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir tell NBC News that militants trying to annex the region for Pakistan are carrying M4s, M16s and other U.S.-made arms and ammunition that have rarely been seen in the 30-year conflict. A major reason, they say, is a regional flood of U.S.-funded weapons that fell into the hands of the Taliban when U.S.-led NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021.
Most of the weapons recovered so far, officials say, are from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), both Pakistan-based militant groups that the U.S. designates as terrorist organizations. In a Twitter post last year, for example, police said they had seized an M4 carbine assault rifle after a gunfight that killed two militants from JeM.