During the early morning hours of October 31, 2020, members of the US Navy SEAL Team 6, also known as DEVGRU (Development Group), carried out a dramatic hostage rescue operation in Northern Nigeria to recover the kidnapped American citizen named Philip Walton.

According to reports, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) supplied the intelligence that led to the whereabouts of Walton, and components of the Marine Special Operations in Africa assisted in locating him. Because of their responsibilities in the region of West Africa, SEAL Team 6 was selected to carry out the operation.

Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters in a statement that “US forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of October 31 in northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men”. Hoffman added that Walton “…is safe and is now in the care of the US Department of State.”

These operations are essential in ensuring the safety of the hostage, and of course, it speaks about the national security of the country involved. With this rescue mission, US pledged its commitment to defending its citizens and national interests wherever they may be.

What happened to Philip Walton?

Philip Walton, age 27, resided in a tiny village of Massalata in Niger with his wife and daughter. Massalata is located close to the border of Nigeria. US officials said he was kidnapped on October 26, 2020. Near the edge of Niger and Nigeria, it is noted that Walton maintains a flock of camels, lambs, chickens, and mango trees. As per the reports, six bandits armed with AK-47 assault rifles rode up on motorbikes to the house where he lived. They then took him captive.

The US intelligence community was able to track him down in Northern Nigeria by following the clues it left behind. As a result, the green light was given to the US Special Operations Forces not long after former US President Donald Trump was briefed on the situation. Although it was a “tough” decision, in the end, the president chose to go ahead with the operation because he placed the utmost importance on protecting American citizens. According to the sources, the aim of the kidnappers was either to demand a ransom payment or to sell Philip Walton to one of the terrorist groups operating in Nigeria. 

The Rescue Attempt