Stars and Stripes Rumor Doctor: ‘Jihad monkey’ report is fake

By Ron Brynaert
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 16:22 EDT
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Internet goes bananas over bizarre ‘Jihad monkey’ report

It’s too bad “The Rumor Doctor” wasn’t practicing at Stars and Stripes during the lead-up to the US invasion of Iraq a few years back which was dependent on false WMD reports. But, thankfully, the independent news source for American troops, which is partially subsidized by the Department of Defense, is currently working hard to refute a silly report that the Taliban is recruiting monkeys to kill US troops.

The New York Post reports:

According to The People’s Daily in China, the Taliban in Afghanistan is “training monkeys to use weapons to attack American troops.”

The newspaper’s bizarre story says the Islamic insurgents have drafted macaques and baboons to be all that they can be, arming them with AK-47 rifles, machine guns and trench mortars in the Waziristan tribal region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The monkeys, being rewarded with bananas and peanuts, are being turned into snipers at a secret Taliban training base.

The newspaper says “photos have been widely spread by media agencies and Web sites across the world.”

Most websites mocked the report.

From New York Magazine:

No invader has ever conquered Afghanistan, and now we know why. The monkeys will not allow it. It was a good effort, but it’s time to pack it in. This is no longer a fight we can win.

Dallasblog’s Tom McGregor wrote,

If the “monkey terrorists” are successfully trained, it could lead to an embarrassing situation if an American soldier is shot and wounded by a monkey on the battlefield. How would he tell his story to family and friends when they ask about his ‘Purple Heart’ medal?

At Gawker, Hamilton Nolan mocked,

Monkey soldiers of killer doom? Prehensile terror tails and teeth! Trained macaques wielding automatic weapons and Islamofasctist sympathies! The word is finally out: the Taliban is using the CIA’s murder monkey program against us. The troops! The troops!

But at Stars and Stripes, Jeff Schogol donned his white coat to investigate the report in two articles.

On Tuesday, Schogol asked, “Could it possibly be true that the Taliban are training monkeys to fire heavy weapons at U.S. troops in Afghanistan?”

The Rumor Doctor asked NATO officials whether these killer monkeys have yet been encountered on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

“We have absolutely nothing that leads us to believe that this tale could be even remotely based in reality,” said NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

When asked if the Chinese government thought the People’s Daily Online story is true, Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong did not answer directly.

“I took note of the fact that the People’s Daily’s story was based on a recent report by a British-based media agency,” Baodong said in an e-mail. “What I want to stress is that the Chinese government is opposed to terrorism of any forms, and this stand is consistent and clear.”

“To be fair, the Doctor wanted to contact the Taliban press office, but he couldn’t find a phone number or e-mail address,” Schogol joked. “If any Taliban reading this would like to comment, please send The Doctor your coordinates.”

On Wednesday, Schogol’s follow-up report noted, “The Rumor Doctor has come across some monkey business regarding those photos purportedly showing a Taliban-trained primate posing with a machine gun.”

But an alert reader sent The Rumor Doctor a version of the picture in which the baboon is on a leash and the machine gun has an orange tip, revealing it is a toy.

“I collect a lot of weird, unusual, humorous photos and images I find on the web, and this happened to be in my collection,” said Staff Sgt. Roy Dunigan in an e-mail Wednesday. “I can’t remember where I found it. I had intended to use it for a training Power Point at one time since I like to inject a bit of humor here and there when I train soldiers.”

The Rumor Doctor tried calling the Chinese People’s Daily, but the language barrier prevented The Doctor from effectively navigating the newspaper’s automated phone system.

To be fair, RAW STORY wanted to contact Schogol for comments, but staff members were unable to pick up a telephone without laughing.

This video is from Next Media Animation News, uploaded to YouTube June 29, 2010.

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