In what has been called a dramatic and daring mission, SEAL Team 6 has rescued American hostage Philip Walton. In an early morning raid, America’s finest was able to track the kidnappers’ cell phones then swoop in and kill all but one of the seven kidnappers. A counterterrorism source told ABC News, “They were all dead before they knew what happened.”
President Donald J. Trump then took to Twitter to share the good news:
Walton (27) was kidnapped from his farm in Massalata Niger on Tuesday. Armed with AK-57s, the assailants approached Walton in his backyard and demanded money. When he didn’t have the funds to satisfy them, they took Walton hostage and demanded a $1 million ransom from his family.
Philip Walton is not a US government official nor does he have an occupation which would make him an attractive kidnapping target. He’s a farmer and son of Christian missionary Bruce Waltton who also lives in the region. According to The Drive, it is not clear whether the kidnappers came on motorbike or by foot, but, as reported by Walton’s wife and children, when Philip offered them the equivalent of $40, the men ransacked the house. Finding no money, the assailants took Walton hostage but left his family unharmed.
Philip Walton’s father then received a phone call and ransom demand. Local authorities speculate that the kidnappers are members of a Fulani, nomadic herder group. “Whether in Mali, Niger or Nigeria, the nomadic Fulani herders often find themselves in conflict with farmers over scarce resources.” The main concern with an American hostage was that this could quickly be much more than just another conflict between herders and farmers in the region. The United States and special forces acted quickly suspecting that the kidnappers would take Walton across the border into Nigeria. If this were to happen, there is a real possibility he would have wound up being sold to al Qaeda or ISIS fighters.