ISIS propaganda video raises questions about deadly mission in Niger

A look at the four U.S. soldiers killed in an ambush in Niger in Oct. 2017.               CBS News

CBS News chose to air parts of the video which the militants captured from a helmet camera worn by one of the four soldiers killed in the ambush in Niger on October 4, 2017 (please note: Viewer discretion is advised).

USA investigators now believe the soldiers got a tip on Chefou's whereabouts and made a decision to act on it, Pentagon officials told the AP.

The men have few resources to fend off dozens of militants armed with machine guns and grenades. As one group of soldiers uses a vehicle as cover, another joins in the fight and they attempt to withdraw from the attack, firing into the bush where the jihadis are located. Most people didn't even know the US had a military presence in Niger.

Questions still remain about the early October ambush near Tongo Tongo, Niger.

The investigation finds no single point of failure leading to the attack, which occurred after the soldiers learned Chefou had left the area, checked his last known location and started for home.

Most of the footage featured in the nine-minute video, entitled, "Assault of the Brave Against the Army of the Americans: the Battle of Tongo Tongo", was retrieved by the jihadis from a camera on the combat gear of the dead Green Berets, giving a grim look into the last moments of the elite troops as they attempted to fend off the assault, killing as many as 21 militants believed to be members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa, Oct. 4, 2017. The footage shows the firefight between the soldiers and the militants continuing until the soldier wearing the helmet-cam is killed. The jihadis continue to fire at him, even as they approach his motionless body at point-blank range and blood is seen spilling onto the ground.

It is unclear why ISIS released the video of the Niger attack now, but it could be because the group has suffered significant losses in Iraq and Syria over the past two years.

Speaking at the Pentagon, Col. Rob Manning, director of Defense press operations did not confirm the authenticity of the video footage. The Pentagon's investigation into the Niger ambush and what took place is expected to be released later this week. U.S. forces in Niger are not authorized to enter situations where enemy engagement is likely and they would have needed senior command approval to do so from Special Operations Command in either Chad or AFRICOM's leadership in Germany.

AFP has published a heavily redacted version of the footage.

One reason why the general public was caught off guard is the US government has not made clear that USA mission in Niger and other African countries involves combat operations, said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington.



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