An Islamic State affiliate has finally claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on American special forces in Niger three months after the attack happened.
“We declare our responsibility for the attack on the U.S. commandos last October in the Tongo Tongo region of Niger,” reads the statement, which is attributed to Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, the head of ISIS in the Greater Sahara.
The assault occurred Oct. 4 and claimed the lives of four American soldiers who were working with local Nigerien forces about 120 miles north of Niamey, the capital of Niger. American officials believe that a local ISIS affiliate was behind the attack, which also resulted in the deaths of five Nigerien soldiers, but the group has only claimed responsibility some three months later without any explanation for the delay, The New York Times reports.
The statement was posted to a website in Mauritania, an outlet previously used by al-Qaida, as opposed to ISIS, to send releases. It’s possible al-Sahraoui sent the message to Mauritania because communications lines with ISIS media operations have been disrupted, as the terror group has lost 98 percent of its physical territory in Iraq and Syria, according to a recent release from the U.S.-led coalition. It’s also possible that the area of Niger in which the ISIS affiliate operates is too remote to be reached by internet or cell signal.
The Pentagon has kept facts about the mission tightly under wraps, which is why the details surrounding the incident have been so murky.
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