The Woodward News

Community News Network

February 6, 2014

Military dog captured by Taliban fighters, who post video of their captive

In the annals of prisoner of war videos, this seems to be a first. A slightly befuddled Belgian Malinois appears on a tight leash, surrounded by heavily armed, bearded men boasting of their battlefield loot.

Donning a black protective vest, the dog wags its tail at certain points and appears more confused than terrified as its captors showcase specialized rifles and a global positioning device with a blinking light they say came attached to the dog.

"Allah gave victory to the mujahideen!" one of the fighters exclaims. "Down with them, down with their spies!"

A link to the video was posted this week on the Twitter account of a user who often disseminates Taliban propaganda. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the dog was captured after a lengthy firefight between U.S. forces and Taliban fighters in the Alin Nigar district of Afghanistan's Laghman province in late December.

"The mujahedeen valorously put tough resistance against the troops for hours," he said in a phone interview Thursday. The dog, he said, carried the rank of colonel and was outfitted with sophisticated electronic devices.

 "The dog was of high significance to the Americans," he said.

Lt. Col. Will Griffin, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan, confirmed Thursday in an email that the force lost a military working dog during an operation in December. He did not provide further details.

Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said officials could think of no prior instance in which a military working dog had been taken captive.

Also featured in the video are two M4 assault rifles outfitted with scopes that are commonly used by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan.

The video caught the attention of analysts at SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks and studies insurgent propaganda. The group's founder, Rita Katz, said she could not recall anything like it.

"I don't remember seeing a dog used as a hostage," she said after checking her database. The only time canines were featured in insurgent propaganda, Katz said, was in Iraq, when insurgents once proposed using the mutts as unsuspecting suicide bombers.

U.S. Special Operations troops often use Belgian Malinois, a breed favored for its light weight, agility and endurance. They are trained to parachute and rappel with their handlers. Some dogs are trained to sniff out explosives; others learn how to find narcotics. In Afghanistan, canines are often used to search compounds that might be rigged with explosives before humans move in.

"Maybe the dog was released to attack or search off-leash and the dog never returned," said Kevin Dredden, a former Air Force military dog handler and Afghanistan veteran who now works as a program manager at AMK9, a firm that trains dogs that go on to work with law enforcement and military units. "Maybe it was unsafe for them to go back and find him."

One thing is certain, according to Dredden.

"I know for sure the handler is devastated," he said, noting the tight bonds handlers and military dogs forge.

Dogs are given ranks that make them senior to their handlers, a practice designed to ensure the human treats the animals with deference. They have a rank patch on their body armor.

When President Barack Obama visited Fort Campbell to personally thank the elite troops who found and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, the name of only one of the special operators was disclosed: Cairo, the elite team's Belgian Malinois.

      

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014