American Kidnapping Victim Rescued in Nigeria

What happened to Philippe Nathan Walton?


U.S. Special Forces rescued an American citizen who was kidnapped on Monday from his farm in southern Niger.

  • Philippe Nathan Walton was kidnapped late on Monday night by armed attackers who demanded ransom from his father.
  • Walton was transported into northern Nigeria, where an elite team of special forces invaded and rescued him from his captors on Friday.
  • According to CBS news, five of Walton’s six captors were killed in the extraction. The United States and Walton’s family paid no ransom money to the kidnappers.
  • Kidnapping for ransom is reportedly relatively common in Niger and Nigeria, usually perpetrated by criminal gangs. However, the Department of Defense has not ruled terrorism as a motive for Walton’s capture. Niger has experienced an uptick in occupation and operation of terrorist groups, including those with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS, within the country’s borders.
  • After the operation but before the story broke in the press, President Trump Tweeted, “Big win for our very elite U.S. special forces today.”
  • The United States holds a deep-seated commitment to protecting its citizens overseas. Under the Trump administration, several American hostages have been released, including several in Yemen earlier this month. In April, Trump called himself “Chief Hostage Negotiator, USA“.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Confirms that the kidnapping was unrelated to a recognized terrorist group. CNN writes that the kidnapping was organized by a group of bandits extorting locals for money. Politico also notes that the kidnapping had nothing to do with Islamic extremism.
  • Raises questions about the glorification of Trump’s track record as a hostage negotiator. The New Yorker writes that he has “reversed decades of American hostage policy” by bucking norms established by previous presidents and choosing to engage or negotiate with captors in hostage situations involving U.S. citizens.



  • Glorifies the Navy Seal Team which rescued Walton from Nigeria. The Sun and Fox News point out that they are a highly elite force deployed only for the most delicate and urgent operations.
  • Emphasizes Donald Trump’s track record as a fighter for the American people, arguing that the exchange would not have occurred without his governance.


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© Evelyn Torsher, 2020