The elusive Islamic State founder and chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been tracked and killed, all thanks to a dog. The US K9 squad commando Conan was unleashed on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the final approach, forcing him to blow himself up at the end of a dark tunnel in Syria.
Conan, the hero dog, was injured in the incident but is now recovering well.
The Belgian Malinois dog was credited for her role in the operation by US President Donald Trump, who tweeted her photo without revealing her name.
“We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS [Islamic State], Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi!” Trump tweeted on Monday.
The canine became famous overnight after it cornered the dreaded terrorist leader in a dead-end tunnel during the raid on Saturday.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on Monday, “The K-9, the military working dog, performed a tremendous service, as they all do in a variety of situations. It is slightly wounded and fully recovering.”
“But the dog is still in theatre, returned to duty with its handler. So we’re not going to release photos or names of dogs or anything else just yet. It’s a classified unit,” the top American general said at a joint news conference with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. “Protecting his identity,” Esper chipped in. “We’re protecting the dog’s identity,” Milley echoed.
After the US president tweeted her picture, the US media confirmed that the hero dog’s name was Conan.
The terrorist, who once established his reign of terror across the globe and carved out a terror nation from the Middle East as big as Great Britain, was chased and cornered into a dark tunnel by US Special Forces dogs.
On Sunday, US President Trump said when the American troops landed in eight helicopters along with specially trained canines, they also had with them a robot, the first of its kind, to go after the IS leader inside the tunnel.
Being chased by dogs towards the dead-end of a tunnel, Baghdadi killed himself by blowing up his powerful suicide vest, as such the robot was not used, the president told reporters at the White House, giving details of the operation in northwest Syria.
“Nobody was even hurt. Our ‘K-9’ as they call, I call it a dog, a beautiful dog. A talented dog was injured and brought back,” Trump said in response to a question on Sunday.
Trump had also said that Baghdadi died “like a dog and like a coward”.
Conan, the canine which forced IS chief to blow himself up, was a Belgian Malinois. Interestingly, another canine, named Cairo, took part in the operation which led to the death of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan’s Abbottabad. It was also a Belgian Malinois.
Belgian Malinois is a special breed commonly used by the military and police.
The breed is preferred for its compact size, making it ideal for fast-roping or jumping out of aircraft. Handlers often refer to Belgian Malinois dogs as “Maligators” or “hair missiles” due to their speed and strong jaw, a report in the Washington Post noted.
Conan is part of the US Delta Force, a unit that operates under highly lethal but secretive US joint special operations command. Dogs like her a reassigned to American troops in troubled areas across the globe.
Dogs like Conan and Cairo are armed and prepared for battle with strong vests and training. They are even trained to leap out of planes along with human soldiers for insertions during secret missions.
They are deployed for reconnaissance as well as surveillance, using camera snapped to their bodies.
Canine units are also used frequently for sniffing operations, search and rescue, explosive ordnance disposal, and hunt and kill.
Conan’s role in IS chief’s death has cemented the value of canines in the high-risk special military operations.