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Second Niger team was out to kill or capture Islamic State leader
by James Laporta
Washington (UPI) Oct 27, 2017

Death toll now 15 in Boko Haram raid on Nigeria army
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Oct 27, 2017 - Seven more bodies have been found after a Boko Haram raid on a military camp in northeast Nigeria, a security source told AFP on Friday.

Militant fighters stormed the base at Sasawa village, some 45 kilometres from the Yobe state capital, Damaturu, on Tuesday, in the third such attack on the military in two weeks.

The Nigerian Army has confirmed the attack and said only there were "casualties on both sides".

But a military source said: "So far, 15 bodies of soldiers killed in the attack at Sasawa have been recovered, including that of an officer.

"Seven more bodies were found in the course of search and rescue operations by 27 Brigade and 233 Battalion. More (soldiers) are still missing and their fate is unknown."

The source, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to the media, said Boko Haram fighters took away two pick-up trucks equipped with anti-aircraft guns.

According to the SITE Intelligence Group, the raid was claimed by the Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP).

That indicates fighters loyal to Abu Mus'ab al-Barnawi were responsible. IS designated al-Barnawi leader of the group last year instead of long-time figurehead Abubakar Shekau.

The al-Barnawi faction is known to have been operating just across the border in Borno state and has been blamed for a number of similar raids.

In July, 19 soldiers and 33 militia members were among 69 killed in a Boko Haram attack on a heavily armed convoy of oil exploration workers in the Magumeri area of Borno.

Tuesday's attack in Yobe also saw Boko Haram fighters seize grain from food stores in the village after a six-hour firefight with troops.

Security analysts have suggested the increase in attacks on military posts is linked to the end of the rainy season plus the need to restock depleted supplies of food and weapons.

A second special operations team was on a mission to kill or capture an Islamic State leader before the Oct. 4 attack on a Green Beret unit in Niger, U.S. intelligence officials told UPI.

The ambush, in which four Americans and five Nigerian soldiers were killed, may have been orchestrated by the leader of IS in the Greater Sahara, Abu Walid al-Sahrawi.

Sahrawi, code-named "Naylor Road," was the target of a second clandestine operation, launched the evening of Oct. 3 by a force made up of American, French and Nigerian soldiers headed to the rural southwest region of Niger.

Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. confirmed to reporters at a briefing Thursday that a second team was in the area when the attack occurred on a 12-man team of U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha members and support soldiers -- what is known as a Green Beret ODA -- and their Nigerian Army counterparts, who were on a separate reconnaissance patrol.

The mission to kill or capture Sahrawi was scrubbed as bad weather emerged and he crossed the border into Mali, officials told UPI. The Green Beret ODA remained in the region after being directed by commanders to gather intelligence on Sahrawi.

U.S. intelligence officials told UPI they believe Sahrawi, also known as Adnan al-Sahrawi, was behind the unit's ambush.

Sahrawi, a pseudonym that means, "Adnan of the Desert," is a jihadist and a former senior spokesman and self-proclaimed emir for al-Mourabitoun, an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organization that operates out of West Africa. Sahrawi took an oath of allegiance to the Islamic State in May 2015, according to the Counter Extremism Project, a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization that combats the growing threat from extremist ideologies.

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara formed after Sahrawi split from al-Mourabitoun. The group is believed to operate near Mali, according to a October 2016 post in Arabic on the encrypted app service, Telegram. The post was distributed by IS's Amaq news agency.

At some point on the morning of Oct. 4, the Special Forces team from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C., was attacked while returning to their forward operating base, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford told reporters Monday.

The complex attack, near a village in Tongo Tongo, in the southwestern region of Niger near the Mali border, involved an array of small arms weapons and rocket-propelled grenades and a force of about 50 militants.

Army officials told UPI that the special forces team was delayed as they left a meeting with local leaders, which may have been part of the plan to attack them.

Officials suspect that some people in the Oct. 4 Tongo Tongo meeting may have been working with the Islamic State. Some of the residents from the village have reportedly have been arrested.

McKenzie told reporters Thursday that contact with the enemy was unlikely before the attack, and that it is unknown if that assessment changed at some point during the operation. Before the attack, 26 previous operations had been completed during the previous six to seven months, he said.

Once the firefight started, an overhead drone provided real-time full motion video images of the attack, Dunford said.

Staff Sgts. Dustin M. Wright and Bryan C. Black were killed in the ambush, along with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson. Sgt. La David Johnson's body was recovered 48 hours later by Nigerien forces in a remote, northwestern region of Niger. Green Berets Michael Perezoni and Brent Bartels were wounded in the ambush and were medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional U.S. Army Medical Center in Germany.

French Mirage jets arrived on the scene about one hour later in a "show of force" in an attempt to drive out the militants. By the time French air support arrived, troops had been in contact with enemy forces for two hours.

It remains unclear when Johnson was separated from the other members of his unit, but a search was mounted after a DUSTWUN was declared, a military abbreviation for duty status, whereabouts unknown. McKenzie said a joint effort made up of U.S., French and Nigerien forces were involved in trying to recover Johnson.

A team of investigators led by a one-star general has been sent to West Africa on a fact-finding mission, with congressional committees launching their own inquiries into the circumstances of the attack.

ICRC warns states against 'dehumanisation' of IS fighters
Geneva (AFP) Oct 26, 2017
Governments must refrain from using language that speaks of the killing or "annihilation" of their citizens who have joined jihadist groups, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday. The comments from the ICRC's deputy chief for the Near and Middle East, Patrick Hamilton, came less than two weeks after France's defence minister publicly stated her preference to see jihadis ... read more

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