NBC News Report: Green Berets Were Chasing ISIS Recruiter When Militants Ambushed Them
Army Green Berets were chasing after an unnamed Islamic State recruiter in Niger when they were caught in an ambush Oct. 4.
U.S. officials told NBC News that the soldiers came under fire from Islamic State-affiliated fighters when they were attempting to catch a senior ISIS recruiter in Niger. The Green Berets did not succeed. Instead, four Green Berets died and two more were wounded. Five Nigerian troops also died. The U.S. did not obtain the body of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, which was discovered a mile away from the ambush, until two days after the attack. The militants on vehicles and motor bikes used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
The Pentagon is still trying to find out exactly what went wrong during the operation. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that intelligence believed the original reconnaissance mission was low-risk. It’s unclear whether the unit received authorization to chase the recruiter.
“It was an ISIS affiliated group,” Dunford said. “ISIS and Al Qaeda try to leverage local insurgencies and connect those insurgencies globally.”
“Is this a dangerous area? Yeah,” Dunford added. “We’re there because ISIS and Al Qaeda are there.”
Interestingly, the call for help from the Green Berets came only after an hour into the fight. In response, a drone moved into the area but only sent intelligence back and did not fire on any militants.
Military officials think the unit of Green Berets may have been set up for the attack by villagers who passed along information about the location of the unit to 50 ISIS-affiliated attackers.
The White House has been caught in the fray of the operation, partly because President Donald Trump issued remarks on the subject after a period of 12 days elapsed, and partly because of his call with Johnson’s widow, which upset Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson.
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