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Maddow Connecting Dots Between Trump’s Travel Ban and Niger Ambush Doesn’t Hold up to Scrutiny

During her show Thursday, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow attempted to link President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban to the Islamic State group ambush in Tongo, Niger, that left four U.S. soldiers dead — an attempt that even HuffPost had trouble swallowing.

Maddow used sound bites, screenshots of news reports, maps and graphics to support her argument that Chad’s addition to the list of nations affected by Trump’s executive order on immigration caused the Chadian government to pull all of its U.S.-allied troops out of Niger, thus causing an increase in attacks on American forces by extremists.

According to Maddow, an expert warned that the decision to include Chad, a neighbor of Niger and a U.S. partner in counterterrorism, in the travel ban might cause instability in the region and “could put Americans in harm’s way.”

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Maddow also contended that the rise in extremists attacks “might explain why we have just had these four absolutely unbelievable gut-wrenching emotional days in American politics and in D.C. in particular.”

Chad’s act of removing its troops from Niger “had an immediate effect in emboldening ISIS attacks,” Maddow claimed.

But HuffPost reported that Maddow’s theory appears to be false, citing the Council on Foreign Relations and accounts from local residents who have attributed the increase in attacks to the militant group Boko Haram, which is based just across Niger’s border in Nigeria.

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According to Laura Seay, an assistant professor in the department of government at Colby College, a group of Boko Haram militants broke away and formed the Islamic State West Africa, but they are separate from the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, the group that is suspected of perpetrating the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the ambush.

Seay noted that Chadian troops were not in Niger to fight against the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, but to combat Boko Haram. The troops were based nearly 800 miles away in the Diffa region, which has long been plagued by Boko Haram.

She contended that any expert asked if Chadian troops were battling the Islamic State group in Niger would have said, “No, that’s crazy.”

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“Everybody that I know is appalled by this,” Seay said regarding Maddow’s assumptions. “I would like to think that Maddow’s researchers are more responsible.”

Seay also pointed out that the removal of Chadian troops from Niger is not necessarily related to Trump’s travel ban, as Maddow theorized.

“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.”

Although Maddow claimed that the attack was “absolutely baffling,” Seay said that such an ambush was “almost inevitable” since U.S. Special Forces teams are operating in remote areas in an “advise-and-assist” capacity, meaning they are training military personnel all over the region. During the last six months, Army Green Berets have gone to the Mali-Niger border 29 times.

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Despite the factual evidence debunking Maddow’s theory, she enthusiastically presented it Thursday night.

To that end, Janet Malcolm of The New Yorker recently described “The Rachel Maddow Show” as “a piece of sleight of hand presented as a cable news show. It is TV entertainment at its finest.

“It permits liberals to enjoy themselves during what may be the most thoroughly unenjoyable time of their political lives,” she added.

What do you think? Scroll down to comment below.

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