Maddow Connecting Dots Between Travel Ban and Niger Ambush Doesn’t Hold Up to Scrutiny

On Thursday evening, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow delivered one of her trademarked lengthy essays in which she connects the dots between a wide range of events to explain how a recent incident or situation occurred. In this instance, she attempted to tie the Trump administration’s recent decision to include Chad in its travel ban to the deadly ambush in Niger that took the lives of four American soldiers.

The way Maddow told it, Chad being included in the banned countries list led to the country pulling its troops out of Niger as part of an effort to fight Boko Haram. The MSNBC anchor even cited an expert that said the travel ban decision would “put Americans in harm’s way” and that following Chad’s pullout from Niger, there has been an uptick in extremist violence.

Overall, the 25-minute segment was meant to pin the death of the four soldiers in Niger on the White House’s updated travel ban, as Maddow stated that Chad’s troop withdrawal “had an immediate effect in emboldening ISIS attacks.”

But does this hold up? According to HuffPost’s Willa Frej, not in the least.

As Frej pointed out, the increased attacks in Niger are related to Boko Haram, not ISIS. There is a group that split from Boko Haram to create Islamic State West Africa, but they are separate from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, the group that is reported to be behind the ambush.

Beyond that, though, Chad’s troops were only in Niger to combat Boko Haram and they were based over 700 miles away from where the ambush occurred. Before withdrawing on September 29th, the Chadian troops were in Diffa, near the Chad-Niger border. Meanwhile, the ambush at Tongo Tongo that occurred on October 4th was at the Niger-Mali border, all the way across the country from Diffa.

Frej wrote the following, citing assistant professor Laura Seay:

Any expert asked about Chadian troops battling ISIS in Niger would have said “No, that’s crazy,” Seay added. ”Everybody that I know is appalled by this. I would like to think that Maddow’s researchers are more responsible.”

Plus, the pullout of Chadian troops isn’t necessarily related to the travel ban, as Maddow implied. “It may have already been planned and [the travel ban] was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Seay said. “Chadians didn’t want to keep their forces there forever and were at least looking to scale down. If we do see the travel ban lifted I’m not sure you’d see the Chadians go back in.”

Frej further noted that violence had been increasing in the area of the ambush over the past year.

Watch the Maddow segment above, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona

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