Philip Walton: United States Thanks Nigeria For Support As SEAL Team 6 Rescues Hostage
According to multiple sources, the US government, working with the Nigerian government, rescued an American citizen who was abducted in Niger last week but held hostage in Nigeria.
The daring and risky US military raid took place early Saturday morning in Nigeria’s Sokoto state, sources familiar with the operation said.
The mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free 27-year-old U.S. citizen Philip Walton before his captors could get far after being detained in Niger on October 26.
Fox News reported that a team of 6 US Navy SEALs led the raid, and no US soldiers were injured during the exercise.
The CIA provided information that led to Walton’s whereabouts, and elements of naval special operations in Africa helped find him, the former US official said.
The elite SEAL Team 6 then conducted a “precision” hostage rescue mission and killed all but one of the seven kidnappers, according to officials who knew firsthand about the operation.
“They were all dead before they knew what happened,” another knowledgeable source in the fight against terrorism told ABC News.
The US mission in Nigeria on Twitter on Saturday said: “We thank the government of Nigeria for their cooperation and support for this mission.”
“We appreciate the support of our international partners in this operation,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
President Donald Trump, who tweeted this as a show of support, called it “a great victory for our very elite US Special Forces.”
Trump also announced on Twitter; “Last night, our country’s brave warriors rescued an American hostage in Nigeria. Our country welcomes the brave soldiers on the daring night rescue mission and celebrates the safe return of another American citizen. ”
And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “Through the extraordinary courage and skill of our military, the support of our intelligence specialists and our diplomatic efforts, the hostage will be reunited with his family. We will never leave American hostages. “
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the decision to pull the trigger was tough, “but in the end the president is prioritizing the safety of American citizens.”
“They are very difficult to do, because you are right, it needs to be done perfectly. But the president always puts America’s interests first. This requires careful planning.
“We are very silent until the moment when you received the green light, and I talked to some of our soldiers and they said: let’s pray for the green light,” Makinani said.
Eric Olerich, a former ABC News and Navy SEAL consultant, said Walton was “lucky” to have such a mission possible, also shortly after his abduction, when others were delayed for years.
“The men in these high-ranking special forces units have trained their entire adult lives to be ready for a challenge, hostage rescue operations are inherently dangerous,” he said. “These people put someone else’s life above their own, they do it selflessly … this is an example of total dedication.”
The former US counterterrorism official generally indicated that the chances of escape in “very dangerous” missions are less than 30%. But the official said it was imperative to act as quickly as possible to prevent the hostages from ending up in the hands of al-Qaeda or ISIS.
“The longer the hostage is, the more difficult it is to find the exact location for the rescue operation,” the official said.
US and Nigerian officials said Walton was abducted from his backyard on Monday after the attackers asked him for money. But, according to sources in Niger, he offered only $ 40 and then was forcibly taken away.
Walton lives with his wife and young daughter on a farm near Massalata, a small village near the border with Nigeria.
Niger is located in the heart of the vast Sahel region, which is fighting a jihadist uprising that has claimed thousands of lives and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Officials in Nigeria and America told ABC News that they believed the kidnappers were from an armed group in Nigeria and were not considered terrorism-related. But hostages are often sold to terrorist groups.
After the kidnapping, concern quickly grew that the opportunity to save Walton could become much more dangerous if he was taken or sold to a group of Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS, and US special operations commanders felt they needed to act first. quickly. of what. This could have happened, said a counterterrorism official who briefed the hostage-free operations.
Another American Christian humanitarian worker, Jeffrey Rae Woodk, 60, has been held hostage for the past four years since he was kidnapped by gunmen in northern Niger.
Rita Osakwe, Bayo Akinloe
Source: – Arise Tv