01 cnn Niger ambush zone
Pentagon issues response on Niger ambush
02:34 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The US State Department announced Friday that it was offering two “up to $5 million” rewards for information leading to the capture of ISIS in the Greater Sahara militants that were responsible for the October 4, 2017 ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers and sparked a lengthy investigation into the incident’s circumstances.

The State Department’s Rewards for Justice program said Friday that it was offering two $5 million rewards, one for Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, a leader of ISIS-GS who claimed responsibility for the ambush in January 2018.

A second reward of up to $5 million is being offered “for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of any individual who bears responsibility for this act of terror,” the State Department said, referring to the ambush that killed four American soldiers and four Nigerien soldiers.

Two Americans and eight Nigeriens were also wounded in the encounter which sparked a Pentagon investigation which found multiple failures at various levels within the US military.

“Abu Walid first proclaimed his group’s allegiance to ISIS in May 2015, and, in October 2016, ISIS acknowledged his pledge,” the State Department said, saying that ISIS-GS emerged when Abu Walid and his followers split from an al Qaeda splinter group based in Africa.

“We assess ISIS in the Greater Sahara probably has at least 150 fighters. The group operates in the Burkina Faso-Mali-Niger tri-border region using small arms, IEDs, and small-unit tactics,” Samantha Reho, a spokesperson for US Africa Command which oversees US military operations on the continent, recently told CNN.

“As seen in public reporting, ISIS in the Greater Sahara has steadily increased attacks southward in Niger and in eastern Burkina Faso,” she added.

But the group “probably lacks external support from ISIS core, and its ties to other ISIS branches probably are minimal,” she said.