U.S. Africa Command is investigating a series of posts by a Twitter user claiming to have footage from the October ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.
“USAFRICOM is aware of a post on Twitter purporting to show a U.S. soldier from the Oct. 4 ambush in Tongo Tongo, Niger,” the command said in a statement Wednesday. “We are reviewing the post and determining the veracity of the tweet and the assertions that there is an associated video. We cannot comment further on this issue, or the ongoing investigation related to the Oct. 4 ambush until the investigation is complete.”
A Twitter account with a name in Arabic that roughly translates to “Mohammed Mahmoud Abu Maali” made two posts about the purported video.
“The video shows one side of the attack, the American dead, some photos were shot by an American soldier, but ISIS took them after the photographer was killed,” the Twitter account wrote in a related post.
Although the Twitter user posts primarily in Arabic, some of the posts being reviewed by AFRICOM were written in French.
The posts claim that the author was given footage by the Islamic State’s Mali offshoot depicting U.S. forces killed in Niger.
The first Twitter post was deleted by the user, while the second one remained up at the time of AFRICOM’s statement.
Although a reverse-image search of the photo did not yield any matching images, the pictures appear to be stills from a helmet camera that could have easily been edited or manipulated or from an unrelated video.
Additionally, an October report by CNN quoted a Nigerian soldier who said the U.S. soldiers involved in the Niger attack were not wearing body armor. The photos in the Twitter posts appear to show soldiers wearing kits with the associated armor plates.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson of the 3rd Special Forces Group were killed in the Oct. 4 ambush.
The four soldiers had been conducting an advise and assist mission with Nigerien soldiers when they were ambushed.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.