Society

Taliban Captures, Holds Military Dog As POW in Afghanistan

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

A Belgian Malinois has reportedly become the latest prisoner of war captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The dog appears to be held on a tight leash and is with a group of heavily armed, bearded men.

The dog is wearing a protective vest and appears to be somewhat confused but not terrorized, reports the Washington Post. It wags its tail occasionally as its captors boast about the specialized rifles and global-positioning device (GPS) with a blinking light that were attached to the dog,

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

The Post reports that 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 firefight between coalition forces and Taliban fighters in the Alin Nigar district of Afghanistan’s Laghman province in late December and carries the rank of colonel. It was reportedly outfitted with sophisticated electronic devices.

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Dogs in the U.S. military are given ranks that make them senior to their handlers, a practice designed to ensure that the humans treat the animals with deference, the Post reports They have a rank patch on their body armor.

U.S. Special Operations troops often use the Belgian Malinois, a breed favored for its light weight, agility and endurance. They are trained to parachute and rappel with their handlers. Some 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.

The use of dogs in combat missions has been one of the grievances that Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Many Muslims worry that being around the animals makes them impure – and thus unfit to pray.

Few Afghans keep dogs as pets, although they are regularly used for dog fighting, a popular gambling sport that was banned by the Taliban but has become popular again. Thousands of people gather for weekend afternoon dog-fighting events.

“Maybe the dog was released to attack or search off-leash and the dog never returned,” said Kevin Dredden, a former Air Force dog handler and Afghanistan veteran at AMK9, a firm that trains dogs to work with law enforcement and military units.

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

The handler for this dog is undoubtedly devastated and concerned for the safety and treatment of the animal once it is no longer valued by the Taliban as a war trophy.

Source: Journal Gazette