An unofficial report on the Pentagon’s investigation into the death of Army Sgt. La David Johnson disputes accounts reported in the media that said he was captured in the Oct. 4 ambush in Niger and apparently executed, according to U.S. News & World Report. The findings will likely raise suspicions for many about a possible military cover-up.
Johnson, 25, was hit by enemy fire up to 18 times while taking cover in thick brush. There’s evidence that he fought to the end. After Johnson’s death, his boots and other equipment were taken, but he was still wearing his uniform, anonymous U.S. officials told The Associated Press.
Controversy has swirled around this case since Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, received his remains in a casket but not allowed to view his body. News reports from Tongo Tongo, Niger said that villagers discovered Johnson’s body with his hands tied behind his back and the back of his head smashed, apparently from a hard object like a hammer. Three other U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were also killed by Islamist militants in the ambush. The official military investigation report, which is expected to be released in January, said that Johnson was not bound or taken prisoner, and there’s no indication that he was shot at close range.
What’s missing from the leaked report is an accounting of the mission. An earlier media report blamed poor planning, a lack of military intelligence and reckless behavior by U.S. Special Forces in Africa for what was described as a military “fiasco.” The U.S. soldiers, lightly armed, were overpowered in an area that was a stronghold of the militants. The Pentagon, however, has declined to release details about the mission and not expected to lay blame for what went wrong in the finalized report.
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