US now moving toward armed drones, lethal force in Niger

The Trump administration is paving the way for lethal strikes against terrorists in Niger as the U.S. military pushes forward with a plan to arm the Reaper drones that fly over that country, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

France has already decided to arm its drones in the region, U.S. documents show, and the move to arm U.S. Reapers has been under consideration for some time — long before this month's ambush of a Green Beret unit that resulted in the deaths of four American soldiers. But that incident, details of which are still coming to light, is fueling an urgency within the Trump administration to take more aggressive steps against the terrorist groups that are operating in North and West Africa, according to intelligence and military officials.

In the wake of the attack, the U.S. has been pressing the government of Niger to allow armed drones at the U.S. bases in that country, three U.S. officials said.

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US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
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US soldiers killed in Niger ambush
A combination photo of U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson (L to R), U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Bryan Black, U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Dustin Wright and U.S. Special Forces Sgt. La David Johnson killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, in these handout photos released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright of Lyons, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, U.S. on October 5, 2017. Courtesy Aaron J. Jenne/U.S. Air Force/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, West Africa on October 4, 2017, poses in a handout photo released October 18, 2017. Courtesy U.S. Army Special Operations Command/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

(Photo via U.S. Army)

Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

(Photo via U.S. Army)
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Beset by poverty, weak governance and insurgent movements, the African region that includes Niger and neighboring Mali is considered by U.S. officials to be a fertile recruiting ground for Al Qaeda and ISIS. U.S. officials believe the militants who ambushed the Green Berets belong to a group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS. President Barack Obama declined to allow armed drones to fly over the region, but the military has been pressing for some time to reverse that decision, officials said.

A move to expand U.S. drone strikes to Niger would amount to a significant escalation in American counterterrorism operations. There have been occasional U.S. drone strikes reported in Libya and Somalia, but most of Africa has not been part of the U.S. drone war, which has focused on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

"It demonstrates that the U.S. is expanding its use of lethal force … in the war on terror," said Juan Zarate, a former Bush administration counterterrorism adviser and NBC News analyst. “It also demonstrates that the war on terror is migrating."

Col. Rob Manning, a Defense Department spokesman, said he would not comment on "possible initiatives by the administration," but "the Department of Defense will always ensure our forces are properly equipped and have the necessary capabilities to accomplish their mission and defeat any threat."

The Green Berets who were ambushed were on a counterterrorism mission, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News — a mission more complex than previously understood. The Green Berets had been tracking a militant in support of a second, more secretive American special operations team operating in the area, intelligence and military officials said.

he second team was described by the officials as a joint U.S.-French intelligence collection unit, working with Nigerien forces, that had been gathering information on terrorist organizations in Niger. That team had been using an unarmed Reaper drone, which was rushed to the site of the Oct. 4 ambush within minutes of the first team's call for help, according to multiple officials.

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US special forces lead training mission for African militaries in Niger
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US special forces lead training mission for African militaries in Niger
A U.S. special forces soldier demonstrates how to detain a suspect during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 4, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 4, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Nigerian soldiers walk in a line during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 3, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 3, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Chadian soldiers place pieces of cloth on the ground during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 3, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 3, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Chadian soldiers run during a mock ambush during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 6, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 6, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Nigerien soldiers do push-ups during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 5, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 5, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Nigerian soldiers receive military theory training from British soldiers (not pictured) during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 3, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 3, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Nigerian soldiers sleep after a training session during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 4, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 4, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Chadian soldiers march during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 3, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 3, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A poster for Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, is seen on the door of a Nigerien military office in Diffa, March 4, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 4, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS)
Chadian soldiers take a break during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Diffa, March 4, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 4, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
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The officials said the second team, which included both military and civilian personnel, did not send soldiers to help repel the attack on the first team. It's unclear why.

The presence of a second team underscores the multilayered nature of the Niger mission, and may explain the difficulty the Pentagon still has in answering basic questions about what went wrong three weeks after the incident.

The team of Green Berets and other Army soldiers were operating openly, as part of a mission to advise and assist Nigerien forces who are battling Islamic extremists who have murky affiliations — some to Al Qaeda, some to ISIS.

The second team was a clandestine unit of the Joint Special Operations Command, and was operating in both Niger and Mali, where the French have a major presence, officials said.

Military and intelligence officials confirmed to NBC News that one role of the joint intelligence-gathering mission is to prepare for lethal operations, which could begin with President Donald Trump's authorization once the U.S. and French Reapers in Niger are armed. At the moment, none of the drones in Niger are.

Pentagon officials say U.S. forces in Niger do not currently have a combat role.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters this week that the Green Berets who were ambushed had been on a reconnaissance mission. But a U.S. military official with first-hand knowledge of the investigation told NBC News the team's mission changed at some point, and that it was asked to track a specific militant, described as a recruiter with ties to Al Qaeda and ISIS. Another source said the Americans were tracking his cellphone.

After patrolling overnight, the Green Beret team stopped in the village of Tongo Tongo, and — as NBC News reported Monday — military investigators say they suspect village residents tipped off extremists about the location of the Americans. The 12-person team was ambushed shortly after leaving the village on its way back to the Nigerien capital of Niamey, Dunford said.

During the ambush — which unfolded at two separate locations as the Americans fought back and maneuvered — Sgt. La David Johnson became separated from the unit, and was not evacuated with rest of the team.

31 PHOTOS
US Army Sgt. La David Johnson's funeral
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US Army Sgt. La David Johnson's funeral
Myeshia Johnson, wife of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, kisses his coffin at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Cowanda Johnson, who raised U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, is comforted by Richard Johnson Jr. (L) and S.J. Johnson at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An unidentified honor guard member reacts after the graveside service for U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
La David Johnson Jr. son of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, is presented with an American flag next to his sister, at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Myeshia Johnson, wife of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, receives the flag which draped his coffin at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, 2nd battalion cry at the tomb of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson at his burial service in the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) attends the graveside service for U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
The coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, is taken into Christ The Rock Church for his funeral service in Cooper City, Florida, U.S., October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
The coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, is carried by a military honor guard as his widow, Myeshia Johnson, is escorted in at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Myeshia Johnson (R), widow of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, sits with her daughter, Ah'Leeysa Johnson (C) who was presented with an American flag at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An honor guard carries the coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An honor guard member touches an American flag to the coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) attends the graveside service for U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Cowanda Johnson, who raised U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, reacts with Richard Johnson Jr. at left during a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Myeshia Johnson, widow of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, is escorted into his graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An honor guard stands at attention as a hearse carries the coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, to a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An honor guard stands at attention after they placed the coffin of U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson, who was among four special forces soldiers killed in Niger, at a graveside service in Hollywood, Florida, October 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Richard Johnson, Sr., holds the hand of La David Johnson Jr., as he and sister Ah'Leesya Johnson hold folded US flag given to them during the burial service for their father US Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Ah'Leesya Johnson holds a folded US flag given to her during the burial service for her father US Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A member US Army Special Forces salutes the casket of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson at his burial service in the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, 2nd battalion, comfort each other as they say their las goodbyes to US Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21: Richard Johnson, jr and Cowanda Jones-Johnson attend the burial service for her son U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Myeshia Johnson kisses the casket of her husband Army Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service for at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the army honor guard fold the flag above the casket of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson during his burial service at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / GASTON DE CARDENAS (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21: Members of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) 2nd battalion Fse comfort each other as they attend the burial service for U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
COOPER CITY, FL - OCTOBER 20: Mike Pacheco is overcome with emotion as he attends the viewing for U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Christ the Rock Community Church on October 20, 2017 in Cooper City, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21: La David Johnson, Jr. is given an American flag by a military honor guard member during the burial service for his father U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, FL - OCTOBER 21: Richard Johnson, jr wipes tears away from the face of Cowanda Jones-Johnson as they attend the burial service for her son U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The hearse carrying the cakset of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson arrives for his burial service at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
US Military honor guard plays TAPs as the body of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson during is interred at the Memorial Gardens East cemetery on October 21, 2017 in Hollywood, Florida. Sgt. Johnson and three other US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger on October 4. / AFP PHOTO / Gaston De Cardenas (Photo credit should read GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Pentagon sent in elite units to try to rescue him, officials said.

"They moved heaven and earth," one U.S. intelligence official said. "They brought assets in from everywhere, including stateside (Special Forces) elements."

There are some 800 U.S. troops in Niger, and while Congress has been notified in writing about their various missions, many lawmakers have complained that they have not been given a full, plain-language understanding of what the U.S. objectives are in the country, and in that part of Africa in general.

Among the targets of intelligence collection around Tongo Tongo, NBC News reported Tuesday, was the immediate circle of leadership surrounding a militant named Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, a veteran insurgent originally from Laayoune in Western Sahara, according to two U.S. military officials.

"We can't discuss specific targeting details for operational security reasons," an official from Special Operations Command Africa told NBC News.

Al-Sahraoui is affiliated with the insurgent group Al-Mourabitoun, which was led for many years by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, aka the "Marlboro Man." Belmokhtar has been reported killed numerous times, most recently in Libya in June 2015 from a U.S. airstrike.

"These groups in West Africa have been brutal in their campaigns, not just in their attacks against security forces, but also against hotels, against civilian sites," Zarate said. "I think the concern in the U.S. is that this is another jihadi playground where if they are not contained early, if they are not fought off, this this is a problem that can metastasize and grow more regionally and more globally in terms of the threat."

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