The Rumor Doctor has come across some monkey business regarding those photos purportedly showing a Taliban-trained primate posing with a machine gun.
The Chinese People’s Daily recently reported that the Taliban are teaching monkeys to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The newspaper claims an unnamed British news agency took pictures of monkeys with AK-47s and other weapons, one of which shows a menacing looking baboon behind a machine gun.
But an alert reader sent The Rumor Doctor a version of the picture in which the baboon is on a leash and the machine gun has an orange tip, revealing it is a toy.
“I collect a lot of weird, unusual, humorous photos and images I find on the web, and this happened to be in my collection,” said Staff Sgt. Roy Dunigan in an e-mail Wednesday. “I can't remember where I found it. I had intended to use it for a training Power Point at one time since I like to inject a bit of humor here and there when I train soldiers.”
The Rumor Doctor tried calling the Chinese People’s Daily, but the language barrier prevented The Doctor from effectively navigating the newspaper’s automated phone system.
If you have seen primates in Afghanistan or Pakistan carrying real weapons, please e-mail The Rumor Doctor at:
UPDATE: A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy defended the coverage by People’s Daily on the Taliban monkeys.
“It's above question that the Chinese government strictly regulates that Chinese media organizations must report truthfully, objectively and fairly by obeying professional codes and standards,” said Wang Baodong in an e-mail.