Two weeks ago, the Chinese People’s Daily Online reported – citing a “British press agency” – that the Taliban was training monkeys to shoot at US troops.
Armed with “Kalashnikovs, Bren machine-guns and trench mortars”, the macaques and baboons are being taught to recognize and fire upon anyone wearing a US military uniform.
“A senior US military source confirmed the existence of the Taliban monkey soldiers, military experts call armed monkeys ‘monkey terrorists’,” it said.
While no mention of this has yet popped up in the 90,000-odd “war logs” revealed by Wikileaks, the tactic would work on two levels.
The first and most obvious consequence would be that US troops couldn’t operate confidently anywhere near light forestation or a zoo.
The second, more sinister outcome would be that animal rights activists back in the US would protest so violently at the fact that innocent monkeys were becoming pawns of war that the US would have no choice but to pack up and head home.
Many media outlets immediately tried to discredit the story, claiming the photos circulating on the web were “Photoshopped” and showed the baboons wielding “toy guns”.
Stripes.com found that the original photo of machine-gun wielding baboon that surfaced following the People’s Daily scoop had it on a leash with an orange cork in the barrel.
It was used by a US military officer for a humorous Power Point display during soldier training.
The website then tried to confirm the story with the People’s Daily, but ended up with a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the US defending the coverage.
Source: Peter Farquhar for News.com.au