Insurgents have long stuffed roadside bombs into the carcasses of animals. But Iraqi security officials say they increasingly worry about the use of live animals.
“Dogs have been used in many areas by insurgents throughout Iraq” to carry explosive devices, said Noori Noori, inspector-general at the Interior Ministry. “They used mentally retarded people for operations during the elections, so why wouldn’t they use animals?”
Last year in Ramadi, in the vast desert west of the capital, insurgents dispatched a booby-trapped donkey toward a U.S.-run checkpoint around sunset. “As one of the soldiers tried to stop it, the donkey exploded,” said resident Mohammed Yas, 45. The only casualty was the donkey.
“Before, they used to use car bombs. Now they are using people and animals,” said Col. Adnan Jaboori, a spokesman for the interior minister. “They are finding new ways to use remote-control technology.”
The daily newspaper Al Mada recently published an editorial cartoon showing an insurgent who strongly resembled Saddam Hussein trying to persuade a dog to strap on a belt bomb to advance the cause of the Baath Party, which once ruled Iraq.
“It is such a simple task,” the insurgent tells the terrified dog. “All you have to do is to put on this explosives belt, repeat the party’s slogans, and may Allah have mercy on your father’s soul!”
Even people who side with the insurgency in principle decry these actions.
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.
Abdel Salam Kubaisi, a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Assn., a hard-line Sunni Arab clerical organization sympathetic to insurgents, called the practice un-Islamic. “Our religion does not permit us to hurt animals,” he said, “neither by using them as explosive devices nor in any other manner.”
How do they justify these things to themselves and to their god?