Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tale of the monkey terrorists who shoot at American uniforms

The Taliban's training monkeys to gun down Americans? It's a bogus claim that's sparked some serious (and not-that-serious) fact-checking.

People's Daily Online started the monkeyshines in China a couple of weeks ago, with a report claiming that the Afghan Taliban was using bananas and peanuts in an experiment to teach monkeys how to fire machine guns and mortar rounds at soldiers wearing U.S. military uniforms.

The report even said the program was modeled after a CIA effort to train "monkey soldiers" during the Vietnam War, and quoted an unnamed U.S. military source as confirming the existence of the Taliban monkeys.

The fallout has been as hilarious as the original story: Taiwan-based Next Media Animation, which churns out CGI parodies like The Onion on ginseng, put together a video report on the killer monkeys. Over at Stars and Stripes, Jeff Schogol (the Rumor Doctor) went so far as to check with NATO officials, Chinese Embassy officials and a primatologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Schogol turned up no hard evidence of monkey mayhem, although primatologist Christopher Coe said he had heard unsubstantiated reports of monkeys being trained to jump into enemy trenches carrying grenades when India and Pakistan were at war.

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