The four United States soldiers killed in an ISIS ambush in the West African country of Niger died due in part to a "massive intelligence failure," according to a new report by NBC News on Friday afternoon. The intelligence failure placed the troops in the heart of what appears to be a sophisticated and well-planned attack by the militants who may have intentionally delayed the troops who were on what they thought was a routine mission, then lured them into the ambush by using men on motorcycles to somehow provoke them.
In the fierce firefight that followed, four soldiers — including two U.S. Green Berets — died: Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Sergeant La David Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida; Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright 29, of Lyons, Georgia; and Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio.
Pentagon officials told NBC News that it is too early to determine whether an intelligence failure played a role in the soldiers' deaths.
While the events of October 4 in Niger remain murky, with the FBI now joining the investigation to try to determine what really happened there, it is known that Johnson somehow became separated from his fellow troops. According to a report by CNN late Friday afternoon, Johnson's body was recovered 48 hours later — a full mile away from the main battlefield.
Clarification For Media: Only Two Of The Soldiers Killed In Niger Were Green Berets https://t.co/vN5gl1nfGx pic.twitter.com/rB0u0vA65wCiting a high-ranking congressional aide who has been briefed on the investigation so far into the Niger tragedy, NBC News reported that the 12-man U.S. team was set upon by between 40 and 50 ISIS fighters during a patrol that the U.S. troops had carried out with no problems at least 30 times previously.
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) October 20, 2017
The NBC source said that investigators "have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there."
The Americans had no overhead surveillance of their mission, which could have alerted them to impending danger, and no "quick reaction" force in the region to respond in the event of an emergency, the NBC report said.
The soldiers stopped for about 30 minutes to meet with leaders of a local village, but investigators are now asking whether they were intentionally delayed there. The NBC report also said that the troops were, for some reason, pursuing men on motorcycles when they drove straight into the "complex" ambush.
With few answers about the soldiers' deaths yet forthcoming, some critics have labeled the Niger ambush "Donald Trump's Benghazi," a reference to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya where an attack killed four Americans. The Benghazi tragedy was the subject of a congressional investigation that lasted about two-and-a-half years and cost nearly $8 million.
One member of congress, Frederica Wilson of Florida, has already deemed the Niger attack "Trump's Benghazi," as have numerous critics on social media, after Trump waited 12 days before offering any public acknowledgement that the attack had even taken place.
If Niger happened under President Hillary Clinton it would be Benghazi.
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) October 18, 2017
When four Americans died in Benghazi Republicans started a crusade when for Americans died in Niger they bury their heads in the sand. https://t.co/amPFFuBS8n
— Majority60-AdamJames (@AdamJamesM60) October 20, 2017
the people who screamed benghazi are deafening in their silence about trump ignoring dead soldiers
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) October 16, 2017
The United States currently has a force of about 800 troops stationed in Niger, a deployment which began in 2012 and is intended to "advise and assist" Nigerien troops in their ongoing battle against extremist terror groups that have taken root in the region and staged attacks inside of Niger.
[Featured Image by WPLG/AP Images]