US State Department Offers $5 Million Reward for Suspects in Deadly 2017 Niger Ambush

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The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering a $5 million reward for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of any individual who has claimed responsibility for the deadly October 2017 Niger ambush attack that killed several US service members.

The program’s release further notes that officials are seeking information that leads to the detainment or conviction “in any country of any individual who bears responsibility for this act of terror.” 

The attack took place in the African nation of Niger, along the country’s border with neighboring Mali on October 4, 2017. At the time, it was reported that US and Nigerien forces were ambushed by dozens of militants aligned with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), a local Daesh-affiliated group, after having met with local tribal leaders. 

The incident ultimately caused the deaths of four American soldiers assigned to the Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 332, four Nigerien soldiers and an interpreter.

In the days following the attack, then-US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis remarked that “the enemy has not operated [in that area] before,” and that the patrol group had been “hit hard.” Months later, in May 2018, the Pentagon released a video recreation of the October 2017 events, which came days after the department completed a 6,300-page report on its investigation into the attack.

More recently, in June, the Pentagon stated that its second review of the 2017 attack had been concluded, and that disciplinary actions against military personnel involved were adequate. The declaration came a few months after then-acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan discussed the attack at a hearing with the House Armed Services Committee, where he indicated that a second probe was necessary because he did not feel that the initial investigation was “sufficient.”

According to the reward program release, ISGS leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, who swore allegiance to Daesh in May 2015, claimed responsibility for the ambush in January 2018. In a separate statement, the program notes that the US State Department declared Abu Walid a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in May 2018.

A reward of up to $5 million is being offered for information that could lead authorities to the ISGS leader.

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