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A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, who was killed in the Niger ambush. Photo: Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne / U.S. Air Force via AP

More than two weeks after the Oct. 4 firefight in Niger that left four American soldiers dead, there is still a dearth of information on the events leading up to the battle and what happened during the ambush itself, prompting an investigation by U.S. Africa Command, per CNN.

Why it matters: Beyond the politicization of the event ignited by the presidential contact of the families of deceased servicemen, this is the most significant military loss yet in President Trump's term — and the lack of information is concerning. Defense Secretary James Mattis is "dismayed" by the situation, according to another CNN report, while some on the left have begun to brand Niger as "Trump's Benghazi."

What is known:
  • This wasn't supposed to happen: U.S. Africa Command told CNN that intelligence indicated it was "unlikely" that U.S. forces operating in the region, including the ill-fated group of 12 Green Berets on a training mission with Nigerien troops, would encounter resistance.
  • The response was haphazard: Because the U.S. didn't expect a fight, American military assets weren't ready to assist the soldiers on the ground. They had to wait until French military jets and helicopters operated by a private contractor could reach the site, per CNN. Mattis has denied problems with the evacuation, saying that he "completely [rejects] the idea that that was slow."
  • The attackers were probably ISIS-affiliated: The 50 fighters who ambushed the soldiers were likely members of the affiliate group ISIS in the Greater Sahara. The Pentagon told reporters last week that the attack was the product of ISIS "trying to go to other places, trying to find the cold corner of the room" — though it stopped short of definitively declaring the attackers' origin.
What isn't known:
  • What might have been missed: The investigation by U.S. Africa Command is set to dive into why intelligence showed it was "unlikely" for the soldiers to be attacked. Additionally, the military wants to discover why an attack happened then, even though U.S. forces had been operating in the region for nearly six months prior.
  • What happened to Sgt. La David Johnson: Johnson's widow is at the heart of the political firestorm with Trump's calls, but he wasn't listed among the initial casualties two weeks ago. He became separated from the group — and may have later activated a beacon, indicating that he was possibly still alive after the ambush. His body was recovered two days after the attack.

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump, per AZCentral.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of Trump loyalist Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”