On April 13, the U.S. deployed one of its most powerful conventional bombs against a cave complex reportedly used by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Afghanistan.
A WikiLeaks tweet posted that same day asserted that there was a connection between the subterranean target and the U.S. government, according to Mediaite.
"Those tunnels the U.S. is bombing in Afghanistan?" read the WikiLeaks tweet. "They were built by the CIA."
The post linked an accompanying New York Times article that explained how, during the Soviet-Afghan War that ended in February 1989, the CIA forged partnerships with jihadist leaders in the hopes of ending the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.
To that end, the CIA backed jihadist leaders with weapons and money, according to The New York Times.
That cooperation reportedly led to the "C.I.A.-financed complex built for the mujahedeen," according to WikiLeaks' Twitter account, referencing the tunnel system.
The complex, known as Tora Bora, consists of miles of subterranean passages and bunkers carved out of mountains and valleys near Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
A report by the New York Times released in September 2005 estimated the cave network could house 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers.
A March 2016 estimate by U.S. military officials projected that there were 2,000 to 3,000 Islamic State-affiliated militants in eastern Afghanistan.
The Pentagon felt the tunnel system was fortified enough to merit the use of the U.S. GBU-43/B weapon, colloquially referred as the "mother of all bombs," though some remained skeptical that the massive payload could deal a finishing blow to militants in the area.
"It's absolutely impossible," explained Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times correspondent who has reported on the Islamic State, according to an interview with NPR. "Unless you're willing to court, you know, a real human catastrophe, you can't just bomb this place indiscriminately."
The GBU-43/B "mother of all bombs" was designed to send out a shock wave capable of destroying subterranean tunnels, though U.S. military officials are still assessing the damage caused by the bomb, according to Bustle.
Callimachi explained that ISIS cave networks in the Middle East have been used to conduct remote military operations from a safe location:
In all of the areas that I have visited, ISIS dug a complicated network of tunnels. And so what they're able to do is they retreat inside the tunnels. And then from there, they're able to send a drone up into the air. So they're completely protected and unseen from our surveillance. And yet, they're able to see. So what they suspect is happening is that the drone is sent out to collect information to identify the location of where the enemy troops are. And then from there, they're able to pinpoint that place and then start aiming mortars at it as well as aiming munitions from the drone itself.
The underground cover reportedly makes it difficult to determine how many Islamic State militants are operating in any given area.
"It's like we are fighting two wars in two cities," said Colonel Falah al-Obaidi, an officer with Iraqi counterterror forces, according to the Washington Post. "There's the war on the streets and there is a whole city underground where they are hiding. Now it's hard to consider an area liberated, because though we control the surface, ISIS will appear from under the ground, like rats."