The unfortunate death of four U.S. Special Unit soldiers in Niger, earlier this month, is far from being a closed case. According to NBC News, the unit had been pursuing a senior ISIS recruiter in the moment of the ambush, as revealed by U.S.officials.
However, the name of the target wasn’t made public, but we do know that the soldiers did not success in capturing him, due to the attack.
This Monday, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared the the Green Berets were on a reconnaissance mission, with a low risk of contact with the enemy. The military is also investigating whether the mission changed while in progress.
Another official, with direct knowledge about the current investigation, said that the soldiers in Niger were gathering information about their potential target. Eventually, after finding an approximate location, they decided to go on an pursue him.
Still, for the moment, it is unknown if the unit got the authorization for proceeding with the pursuit, and whether the risks were assessed or not.
Another official said that it’s very possible that 30 Nigerian troops, who were accompanying the Americans, were the ones that decided to pursue the target.
U.S. officials believe that the unit was expected by the attackers, as residents in a village they visited earlier tipped militants about the upcoming raid. However, this is another scenario which remains unclear.
The mission in Niger was carried out under the auspices of a program initiated during Barack Obama’s administration – Juniper Shield-, then reauthorized under the current administration.
The program was intended to “disrupt or neutralize” terrorist organizations operating across North and West Africa, believe to be connected to Al Qaeda or ISIS.