U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros

ISIS releases propaganda video showing death of U.S. Soldiers in Niger

Caitlin M. Kenney
March 05, 2018 - 10:29 am

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a propaganda video with purported footage from the ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers, last October.

CBS News reported Sunday evening, that the graphic footage was taken from the helmet camera of one of the soldiers killed in the ambush.

In video clips aired by CBS News, soldiers are seen taking cover behind SUVs and returning fire during the attack. At one point, a soldier is shown laying on the ground and is dragged behind an SUV by another soldier. 

The Pentagon reacted to questions about the video, Monday. 

“Obviously we’re not going to confirm the authenticity of the video," said spokesperson U.S. Army Col. Robert Manning.“ISIS is suffering significant loses in both personnel and territory, and they’re using this type of propaganda as a desperate recruiting tool.” 

Pressed by reporters for an explanation for why the Pentagon could not authenticate the video, Manning reiterated that it was ISIS propaganda and could not be authenticated at this time.

It is “poorly produced and it’s spliced together so we can’t confirm that, that is in fact taken place at the location that they’re saying it did,” he said. “We didn’t produce the video. We can’t confirm something that we didn’t produce.”

Some experts believe that the release of the video may be tied to a recent terrorist attack in the region.

“It’s pretty clear based on everything that I’ve been reading in the last couple of days, that this video was released, when it was released, in large part as a result of the attacks that happened in Burkina Faso a couple of days ago,” said Dr. Brandon Kendhammer, an associate professor of political science and director of the International Development Studies program at Ohio University.

Kendhammer specializes in religion and politics in West Africa, including Islamic extremist groups in the region.

On March 2, there was a simultaneous attack on the Army headquarters and French Embassy in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou that was claimed by an Al-Qaeda linked group.

The video was not initially released through official channels of the Islamic State, according to Kendhammer, but by those run by supporters of ISIS or its network affiliates.  

“So, it’s unclear exactly how much credit the full Islamic State is taking for this,” he said. “Al-Qaeda just had a big attack, and so Islamic State is trying to take some credit for being active in the region as well at the same time.”

These videos have been circulating privately for a while, Kendhammer said, “but it’s only recently that it’s been made public with the attached material, the pledges-- allegiance to the Islamic State.”

During his briefing to reporters at the Pentagon, Manning said that anyone viewing the video or bringing attention to it, including the media, that “You are complicit in amplifying ISIS propaganda if you do that.”

The investigation into the ambush has been completed and signed by the commander of US Africa Command, Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, and is currently being reviewed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, according to Manning.