Dog Bites US Army: Information Warfare Gaff in Afghanistan
Top US Commander Apologises for Insulting Muslims
In Parwan Province, northern Afghanistan, paper often rains from the skies as the US military drop leaflets in an attempt to influence the hearts and minds of the insurgents. This time there was no denying the influence.
White Dog PsyOp Against Taliban Backfires
A photograph of the alleged leaflet being shared on social media shows a lion chasing a white dog. White is the colour of the Taliban flag and printed over the dog’s body is the same text that appears on the Taliban flag.
Also on the leaflet is the message: “Take back your freedom from these dogs. Help the security forces eliminate these enemies. Take back your freedom and ensure your security.”
It is clear that the US information warfare experts wanted to associate the Taliban with the white dog. It is possible that the dog was deliberately chosen because dogs are seen as unclean animals by Muslims. The lion is the Afghan people taking back their freedom.
This is the message they wanted to send. What actually happened was quite the reverse. The publication of the photograph has caused outrage across the Muslim world.
“Unforgivable” Insult to Muslims
Reactions on Facebook quoted by the Daily Mail include: “Death to infidels, death to their servants;” while another wrote “They do this in a country with a 99.9% Muslim population. We will see how the [insurgents] … react.”
But the reaction was not just from noobs on social media. According to Reuters, the governor of Parwan, Mohammad Hasem called the leaflet “unforgivable” and demanded that the culprits be punished:
Those who have committed this unforgivable mistake in the publicity, propaganda or media section of the coalition forces will be tried and punished.
The problem is that the text on the Taliban flag comes from the Koran. Meaning “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” the text is called the Testimony of Faith (Shahada) and its recitation by believers is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Couple that with a dog and you have just dropped dynamite into the nitroglycerine.
The Testimony of Faith also appears on the flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the regime that the USA and her allies are trying to support.
Major General Linder Apologises
Major General James Linder, commander of the US Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, released a statement, saying:
The design of the leaflets mistakenly contained an image highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam. I sincerely apologise. We have the deepest respect for Islam and our Muslim partners worldwide. There is no excuse for this mistake. I am reviewing our procedures to determine the cause of this incident and to hold the responsible party accountable. Furthermore, I will make appropriate changes so this never happens again. Resolute Support remains committed to Afghanistan’s future, and I offer my sincerest apologies for this error.
Image: US Army 303rd Psychological Operations Company (POCO) distribute leaflets over Afghanistan, 28 August 2013, by Sgt Demetrius Munnerly (USMC)