US forces, including the navy’s SEAL Team 6 almost committed an unauthorized incursion into Nigerian territory – also commonly referred to as an invasion – last year while undertaking a mission to free a 27-year-old American kidnapped by a local militant group, a new book from two Washington Post reporters claims.
In I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by authors Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, a chaotic scene is described as unfolding when US special forces descended upon the country in an effort to rescue Philip Walton, the son of an American missionary, who had been kidnapped at his home by armed gunman in neighboring Niger.
According to Ms Leonnig and Mr Rucker, US operators had to halt their mission while en route after learning that a White House aide, Kash Patel, had been mistaken in his assertion that Nigeria’s government had given the OK or even been warned about the impending US incursion to rescue the young man, who was being held in a remote compound in the country’s north.
The operation resumed after permission was obtained from Nigeria’s government, but the revelation underscored how close the US came to making an unauthorized strike against militants in a foreign country.
Mr Patel, according to the book, was not in a role where it was his job to get in contact with foreign governments to notify them of operations in their territory, but according to the book such processes had broken down in the final months of former President Donald Trump’s term in office.
Mr Trump gave approval for the military action while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was overseas, national security adviser Robert O’Brien was out of town, and Defence Secretary Mark Esper had yet to discuss the matter with the president, the book claims. In the ensuing confusion, Mr Patel reportedly “assured” senior officials involved in the process that Nigeria’s government had been notified.
“The mission had to be paused until the Nigerian government signed off. American forces had come very close to a technical invasion of a foreign country,” wrote the authors.
I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year was released on July 20, published by Bloomsbury.
Mr Patel declined to discuss the events of Halloween when contacted by the book’s authors. The 31 Oct mission was successful, leading to the deaths of numerous militants, according to the book, while Mr Walton’s rescue was reported by news outlets last year.
“Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today,” Mr Trump tweeted at the time of Mr Walton’s rescue last year.
“Last night, our Country’s brave warriors rescued an American hostage in Nigeria. Our Nation salutes the courageous soldiers behind the daring nighttime rescue operation and celebrates the safe return of yet another American citizen!” he added.