Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 mujahideen 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.

Military dog captured by Taliban fighters, who post video of their captive 02/06/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree

    National

    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  3. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  4. Hit-run driver who refused to leave van threatened to shoot, Hillsborough deputies say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eddie Carly Colon Soto peeked his head out the broken side window of his van as a SWAT team closed in.

    The driver of this van tried to flee the scene of a crash in north Tampa Thursday morning until he could travel no farther, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then he refused to leave the van and threatened sheriff's deputies, they said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]
  5. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox

    Bucs

    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]