Concerning reports are slowly coming to light regarding the deaths of four American Soldiers on a mission in Niger. New information indicates that villagers in the area are possibly the reason for the attack. The 12-man U.S. unit along with Nigerian security forces were possibly set up for the ambush by some of the very people they were trying to help on this mission.
According to The Daily Caller :
U.S. soldiers ambushed by Islamic State militants near the Nigerien-Malian border Oct. 4 were likely set up by an ISIS sympathetic village.
Villagers reportedly sought to delay the departure of U.S. soldiers from a meeting while ISIS militants set their trap. After leaving the meeting, the 12-man U.S. team and accompanying Nigerien security forces were ambushed by a ISIS forces equipped with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. During the hours-long engagement Sgt. La David Johnson, a U.S. soldier on the mission, was separated from his unit and declared missing, three others were dead, and two were wounded. Five Nigerien security forces were also killed during the operation.
The local village chief was arrested after the attack, indicating his possible complicity, the village mayor Almou Hassane told Voice of America. “The unit stayed a little longer than expected because apparently people were aware that something was going on,” a terrorism expert in Niger told the news source. The soldiers were in the village searching for information on a close associate of an ISIS leader, the expert elaborated.
The ISIS affiliate thought to be responsible is known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara and are led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi. Sahrawi has a long history with militant groups in Mali and at different times having associations with al-Qaida, running his own militia, and finally pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in May 2015.
The troops took fire for approximately one hour before air support was requested, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford revealed Monday. The one-hour delay in air support request could be for a host of reasons including belief by the team that the firefight was enough for them to handle themselves, Dunford cautioned.
- After U.S. forces made the call for air support, it then took an additional one hour for French mirage jets to appear overhead, but the jets did not release any munitions on the ISIS militants.
NBC Reported that Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, failed to report on that theory when he held the brief for reporters on the incident Monday. He stated that the troops had merely been on a reconnaissance mission.
Now, three weeks after a deadly attack that has been turned into a political time bomb, the U.S. military is working to get a grip on the actual facts of what led to the deaths of four service members — and the growing list of questions concerning the U.S. missions in Niger and other parts of Africa.
There is a mention in a report by an anonymous official stating to the NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman, that when the patrol of U.S. and Niger troops stopped in a village near the border with Mali to get water, locals there gave them “the cold stare.”
The cold shoulder act was so uncomfortable for the U.S. soldiers that they decided to leave shortly after their arrival and stay in a different location for the night.
The anonymous official told Bowman that the attack that followed is believed to have been a “set-up” by the villagers. The original patrol was a force of about a dozen or so U.S. troops led by members of Niger’s own military that were meant to meet with villagers near the border with Mali, but they were ambushed on the way.
This ambush by ISIS has hit hard and became even more upsetting when it was then turned into a political game of tennis after the fact. Officials and citizens alike are demanding answers and details, but only time will tell if those answers are going to be forthcoming or not. Unfortunately, situations like these often get tangled up in political red-tape which leaves many left in the dark.