8/11/2005

Dogs being used as Weapons of War

U.S. forces rely on dogs to detect bombs in Iraq. Insurgents rig them with explosives.
By Borzou Daragahi
Times Staff Writer

August 10, 2005

BAGHDAD — These are the dogs of war.

At a checkpoint leading to the U.S.-protected Green Zone, Gordy stands sentry. The affable Belgian Malinois has a nose finely tuned to detect the nitrates, plastic explosives, gunpowder and detonation cords that suicide bombers use to blow up people.

On a barren stretch of road in northern Iraq, a dog rigged with explosives approaches a group of Iraqi police officers. Detonated by remote control, the bomb tears the dog apart but doesn't harm the cops.

In a war where the line between civilian and soldier is blurred, even man's best friend has been caught up in the combat. U.S. forces hail their trained dogs as heroes, but to insurgents, canines provide the means for a more sinister goal.

Iraqi police cite the recent use of dogs rigged with explosive devices in Latifiya, just south of Baghdad, in Baqubah in central Iraq and in and around the northern city of Kirkuk.

Some Iraqis are horrified by the ethics of dragging the animal world into a human conflict.

"How can they use these lovely pets for criminal and murderous acts?" asked Rasha Khairir, 25, an employee of a Baghdad stock brokerage. "A poor dog can't refuse what they are doing with him because he can't think and decide."

Despite a common prejudice in the Muslim world against dogs, which are considered unclean, even the most virulent clerical opponents of the U.S. presence in Iraq have decried the use of canines as proxies in the war.

Servants -- and Weapons -- of War

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