An impressive operation.
An American citizen abducted last week in Niger has been rescued during a high-risk U.S. military raid in neighboring Nigeria, officials told ABC News early Saturday.
The mission was undertaken by elite commandos as part of a major effort to free the U.S. citizen, Philip Walton, 27, before his abductors could get far after taking him captive in Niger on Oct. 26, counterterrorism officials told ABC News.
That’s a very narrow timeline.
Remember how bad the Carter administration was at putting together a rescue operation. To say nothing of the Obama admin’s September 11 reactions to attacks on Americans across the region, especially in Benghazi. On the other hand, the Reagan admin was much more on top of things with the Achille Lauro hijacking.
The operation involved the governments of the U.S., Niger and Nigeria working together to rescue Walton quickly, sources said. The CIA provided intelligence leading to Walton’s whereabouts and Marine Special Operations elements in Africa helped locate him, a former U.S. official said.
Then the elite SEAL Team Six carried out a “precision” hostage rescue mission and killed all but one of the seven captors, according to officials with direct knowledge about the operation.
“They were all dead before they knew what happened,” another counterterrorism source with knowledge told ABC News.
This is how things should work. This is how people who watch TV and movies expect it to work. And yet it doesn’t come together this way so often in real life. Intelligence isn’t properly shared, coordination doesn’t happen, the go-ahead isn’t given, unexpected problems occur in the air or on the ground.
Eric Oehlerich, an ABC News consultant and retired Navy SEAL, said Walton was “lucky” that such a mission was possible such as short time after he was abducted, when others have been held for years.
“Men in these top-tier special forces units train their entire adult lives to be ready when called upon, hostage rescue operations are inherently dangerous,” he said. “Those men put someone else’s life above their own, they do so selflessly….it’s an illustration of utter commitment.”
A former U.S. counterterrorism official emphasized generally how long the odds are for rescue in the “highly dangerous” missions — less than 30%. But the official said that it’s crucial to act as quickly as possible so that hostages don’t wind up in the hands of al Qaeda or ISIS.
Which is the real issue.
Hostage-taking is a multi-level business. Some of the hostages who ended up in the hands of ISIS were resold once or several times. It’s really a modern day slave trade, but it isn’t described as such for political reasons.
President Donald Trump called the rescue mission a “big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces” in a tweet
This is an administration that acts when Americans are in peril. Trump is up against Biden who opposed the Bin Laden raid. Would he have signed off on this rescue mission?