Mastermind of Tongo Tongo Assualt on US Special Forces Killed

Malian Armed Forces successfully neutralized jihadist commander Abou Houzeifa, also known as “Higgo,” in a recent operation in the Gao region, as reported by the “Afrique Sur 7” news outlet, citing local security sources. Higgo, who led the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), was a high-profile target for several Western nations, including the United States, which had offered a reward of 3.5 billion CFA francs (approximately 5.6 million USD for his capture. 

Higgo was recognized as the principal militant leader in the tri-border region connecting Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso—a notorious hotbed for Islamist militant activity. He reportedly orchestrated the assault against American special forces in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on October 4, 2017, which resulted in the deaths of four Nigerian and four American soldiers as they were returning to their base from a reconnaissance mission.



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Houzeifa was noted for his involvement in high-profile attacks. His leadership and actions made him a target for several Western countries, leading to significant bounties for his capture, reflecting the threat he posed in the region.

Tongo Tongo Attack

The Tongo Tongo attack was a significant and tragic incident that occurred on October 4, 2017, in Niger. A group of 12 members of 3rd Special Forces Group, along with 30 Nigerian troops, were ambushed by militants believed to be associated with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS). The attack happened as they returned to their base after a reconnaissance mission near the village of Tongo Tongo.

Tongo Tongo memorial
A memorial to our fallen brothers. Image credit: Henry Black

The Allied forces were overwhelmed by heavy and unexpected gunfire during the ambush. The firefight resulted in the deaths of four U.S. Special Forces soldiers (Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wash.; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, Fla.; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga.) and four Nigerian soldiers, and it left others wounded. This event drew international attention and raised questions about the U.S. military’s role and preparedness in West Africa, as well as the escalating threat posed by jihadist groups in the Sahel region. The incident underscored the complex security challenges in the area and the lethal capabilities of jihadist insurgent groups operating across the borders of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

Today, justice has been done, and the terrorist who planned the attack has been brought to an end.