In a daring nighttime raid, U.S. forces rescued 27-year-old Philip Walton, an American prisoner, from a group of kidnappers in northern Nigeria, according to Pentagon officials. Walton had been abducted on Tuesday from a small village near the Nigerian border by six armed gunmen on motorcycles.
Press sources claim that Navy SEAL Team Six was responsible for the rescue, although Pentagon’s press release didn’t specify the unit.
Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, released the following statement from the Pentagon: “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of 31 October in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men. This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State.”
ABC News reported that the rescue operation was organized by the U.S. government with help from both Niger and Nigeria. The report further states that officials did not believe that the kidnappers were affiliated with a terror group, but that the swiftness of the operation was critical to keeping Walton from being passed to a terror group in exchange for money.
ABC News also reports that the raid was swift and deadly. One counterterrorism source was quoted as saying. “They were all dead before they knew what happened.”
President Trump congratulated the men via Twitter this morning.
Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2020
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that the decision to greenlight the mission was a “tough” one but that the safety of Walton was the top priority.
“They’re very tough ones to make because you’re right it has to be conducted just perfectly,” McEnany said. “But the President always puts the American interest first on it it takes a lot of planning.”
“A lot of keeping things quiet until that moment when you get the go ahead and I was talking to some of our soldiers and they said to me, we pray to get the green light,” McEnany added.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also released a statement about the raid saying, “The United States is committed to the safe return of all U.S. citizens taken captive. We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a U.S. citizen after a group of armed men took him hostage across the border in Niger.”
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our military, the support of our intelligence professionals, and our diplomatic efforts,” he added. “The hostage will be reunited with his family.”
The Pentagon has confirmed that no U.S military personnel were injured during the operation. Its statement also confirmed the participation of “international partners.”
“The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world,” the Pentagon statement concluded.