Washington, DC – Over a month has passed since the deadly ambush by Islamic militants in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, including the traitor Sgt. La David Johnson, who leaked the information of his squad’s position and strength to the enemy. According to CBS News, U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson was found stripped, bound, and shot in the back o of the head two days after a fatal early October ambush by Islamic State terrorists.
Johnson’s body was found by local children approximately a mile away from the main ambush site where three other soldiers were killed and according to villagers, was alive when he was found. He was bound and tied and handed over to the Tongo Tongo village chief, suspected of collaborating with Johnson and helping the Islamic State terrorists to plan and execute the deadly ambush on U.S. forces.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford indicated the soldiers were part of a 12-man team on an overnight mission deep in the heart of Niger. U.S. troops in Niger are engaged in train, advise, and assist mission for Nigerien security forces and are not thought to be engaged in active combat missions. Which is why, many of the vehicles used in patrols in Niger are soft-skinned (unarmored) and lightly armed. Johnson shared the time and size of his squad with a local village boy who passed the news on to the Tongo Tongo village chief.
The team of U.S. Special Forces soldiers came under fire mid-morning on October 4 by approximately 50 Islamic State terrorists with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades after leaving a nearby village in Tongo Tongo. U.S. and Nigerien forces took fire for approximately one hour before air support was requested.
One soldier reported seeing Johnson commandeer a Land Cruiser with three other Nigerien soldiers on board and drive in the opposite direction to the firefight,
“As we came under heavy fire, I looked up and saw Johnson jump into one of the Land Cruisers and speed off in the other direction. That Land Cruiser was manned by the Nigerien soldiers who were with us, so I thought it was weird that he would do that instead of providing covering fire.”
The other three U.S. Special Forces soldiers whose bodies were found stripped of their uniforms and gear had been killed during the firefight and recovered several hours after the deadly ambush.
Nigerien officials shared intelligence with the American forces in Niger that the meeting with the Tongo Tongo village chief had been arranged by Johnson and that he had leaked the information of the size of the squad and the convoy that would be at the village that day. This gave the Tongo Tongo village chief ample opportunity to stall for time as the Islamic militants brought down overwhelming firepower on the unsuspecting American soldiers. Johnson, who had intended to flee all along would have succeeded if not for the fact that he was shot and killed by a member of his own convoy.
Which is why it took up to 48 hours for his body to be recovered and also why his body was found tied and he was killed “execution style.” According to a village elder from Tongo Tongo, Johnson was not killed by the Islamic State terrorists, but instead one of his own. The village elder claims that Johnson was alive and had him bound, tied and stripped before handing him over to the U.S. forces. The village elder describes handing Johnson over to the U.S. forces soon after the ambush but that a U.S. Special Forces soldier put a bullet into the back of Johnson’s head while he was still alive, naked, bound and tied.
According to NBC News, U.S. military investigators have now conceded that Nigerien villagers sold out the location of the team to the terrorist group and assisted in setting up the ambush. Villagers used the information which Johnson had provided them with to delay the departure of U.S. soldiers from a meeting while Islamic State terrorists set their trap.
The local village chief was arrested after the attack, indicating his possible complicity, according to the village mayor Almou Hassane,
“The unit stayed a little longer than expected because apparently people were aware that something was going on.”
A terrorism expert in Niger said the soldiers were in the village searching for information on a close associate of an Islamic State leader. The Islamic State affiliate leader thought to be responsible is known as Abu Walid al Sahrawi.
Sahrawi has a long history with militant groups in Mali, and at different times has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, running his own militia, and finally pledging allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in May 2015.
The latest information raises a fundamental set of questions, analysts said. Why would a small, lightly armed U.S. unit go into a village sympathetic to terrorists without drones overhead and a rescue force available if things went wrong? According to one former special forces operator who now works as a military contractor,
“We know the proper way to do these missions so we can control risk.”
“Every time you skip a step or use less resources, you incur more risk. They clearly skipped steps and had less resources than would be proper to see if they were walking into an ambush. At what level did someone accept the extra risk?”
Dunford spoke to the issue of too much risk, calling it “speculation,” and said the investigation would get to the bottom of that question. According to Dunford, who addressed the issue at a press briefing at the Pentagon,
“Are they taking risks? They are.”
“Are they taking risks that are unreasonable? I don’t have any reason to believe that.”
As more evidence pours in to confirm Sgt. La David Johnson’s betrayal of his patrol, the Pentagon will understandably continue to deny this betrayal as doing so would force them to deal with the bigger issues plaguing the military. A military force divided on the basis of race and political views will not be an effective fighting force, as evidenced by what happened in Niger.