On October 4th, four American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger. The news of the deaths has left many with questions as to who was responsible for the killings, and why soldiers were there in the first place.
According to Newsweek, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement Monday declaring who he believed was responsible for the attack. He said, “Our assessment right now is it is an ISIS-affiliated group.”
ABC News reported the terrifying details of the ambush and how the attackers were very likely ISIS affiliates. Originally the four American soldiers were part of a reconnaissance mission to meet with local leaders in the area.
In total, 12 Americans and 30 Nigerian soldiers were headed to the village of Tilloa to meet with a leader there. On their way back to base, they received the orders to kill or capture a target affiliated with both al-Qaeda and ISIS, who was believed to be in the area. The high-value target was Naylor Road, among the US’ “top three objectives in Niger.”
A survivor of the attack describes that they failed to find the target at the designated location, but when they stopped in a nearby village for rest, a local was trying to stall them, “He was definitely stalling as long as he could to keep us there.”
When two motorcycle riders watched them and raced out of the village, the soldiers knew something was up. They only made it a few hundred yards out of the village when they were attacked by machine guns, grenade launchers, and mortars.
The survivor believes it is “absolutely” possible that Naylor Road, the high-value target, was involved in the attack. Given that Road is affiliated with ISIS, this would seemingly support Dunford’s assessment that ISIS was responsible for the attack.
The ISIS group specifically being blamed is referred to as ISIS in the Greater Sahara or ISGS. ISGS has been a small-time ISIS affiliate, conducting small-scale attacks. If Dunford is correct that ISGS was behind this ambush, it would be the most significant attack the organization has conducted ideologically.
It is believed ISGS was established in 2015, and their leader, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, was originally affiliated with al-Queda before siding with ISIS. Despite the ISGS swearing allegiance to ISIS, they were never formally recognized as a part of the group.
The tragic attack left four American soldiers dead, among them Sgt. La David Johnson. Johnson was called a “war hero” by the survivor, “Without a doubt, his courage and bravery in action that day were above and beyond expectation. He died fighting for his brothers on his team. You can quote that verbatim. He grabbed any and every weapon available to him. The guy is a true war hero.”
If the confirmation comes back that ISGS was behind the attack, it would mean they pose a much more significant threat then they did before. If it’s revealed that Naylor Road was the mastermind behind the attack, it would undoubtedly make him a greater priority for troops operating in the area.
Evidence points toward ISIS being responsible for the ambush in Niger. Should forces be sent to destroy ISIS?
The ambush in Niger is an example of the risk these brave men and women put themselves through every day to defend the US. They willingly headed into danger to hunt down a dangerous target and Sgt. Johnson gave everything to defend his fellow soldiers when they were ambushed.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those four servicemen who died in the attack as well as those members of our military who are still fighting to keep our country safe from threats like ISIS.