The elite force of SEAL Team 6 members successfully rescued an American missionary who was kidnapped in Niger and taken to Nigeria, a neighboring West African country where the rescue mission was carried out early on Saturday. The SEAL team jumped out of a plane some miles from where the captors were holding their hostage and successfully rescued the hostage, killing six out of the seven assailants that held him, Fox News reports.
The hostage, Phillip Walton, a 27-year-old American missionary, had been living in Niger where he was taken hostage by armed men last week before being transported to the Northern part of Nigeria, officials reported. The rescue had been aided by officers of different US military teams as well as intelligence agencies
President Donald Trump applauded the efforts of the SEAL team. In different posts on Twitter, the president praised the efforts of the officers in successfully conducting the nighttime raid to rescue Walton. While addressing a crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the president described the rescue operation as a successful one that is bound to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the captors.
Kayleigh McEnany, Press Secretary of the White House, informed reporters that calling for the rescue of Walton had been a difficult decision but it was made nonetheless, to show that the president puts nothing above the safety of Americans, home or abroad, The Hill writes.
Officials also revealed that though the Northern region of Nigeria is the base of Boko Haram, the West African faction of the Islamic State, the captors were not considered terrorists but they had plans to sell Walton to the terrorists.
Chris Miller, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, warned other assailants and terrorist groups in the area that whenever they try to target an American citizen, the whole force of the United States military, and other agencies will be used against them.
“The successful rescue mission should serve as a warning to all assailants and terror groups all over the world that the US military can execute rescue missions anywhere and the government will do all it takes to bring US citizens home safely,” Miller said.
The SEAL Team 6 which rescued the hostage is in charge of the West African region, US officials said.
Jonathan Hoffman, the chief spokesman for Pentagon, appreciated the team for rescuing Walton. He also recognized the efforts of international agencies who had aided the rescue. In the same vein, Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State stated that the successful mission shows that the US government will always deliver on the promise to safely rescue and return all American citizens taken hostage.