U.S. intelligence believes militants loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were responsible for the attack on troops in Niger earlier this month that left four U.S. service members dead.
A senior counterterrorism official tells CBS News that fighters with ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) were behind the attack. The group has been led by Adnan Abu Walid al Sahraoui since May 2015, the official said. He commands just 40 to 60 fighters but has allies across the region.
“[I]n October 2016, ISIS’ news agency acknowledged [ISIS-GS’] pledge of allegiance to ISIS, according to media reporting. As of this month, ISIS-GS operated in the border area between Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger,” the official said. The U.S. has not detected money or fighters going from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria to that part of Africa.
The four soldiers killed in the attack were returning from a mission with Nigerien soldiers when they came under fire. The Defense Department and congressional committees are investigating the circumstances of the attack.
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SOURCE: CBS News