February 27, 2011 | 14 Dead at Kandahar Dog Fight

Terrorists want to undo everything we believe in and more: sometimes their targets are just inane.

AFGHANISTAN — Do you remember Michael Vicks? He was a very talented football quarterback for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons before his career came to a screeching halt in 2007 after he pleaded guilty to charges that he was part of a dog fighting ring: he spent 21 months in federal prison for this offence. Not surprisingly, his sins gained him negative notoriety with the US public, which lasted throughout the rest of his career as an athlete.

We have a special relationship with dogs in the West. Most people see them as companions, not pets, and love them as they do other humans (which is why cultures where dog meat is a delicacy are generally frowned upon in this part of the world). That anyone would abuse these animals, yes including those who force them to fight – I heat it is quite brutal – is unconscionable.

It is nonetheless true that in some societies dogs are considered unclean. Islamic societies are on that list. While there is some debate among the world’s one billion plus Muslims many scholars have ruled that believers cannot and should not keep dogs in the house (but do recognise that dogs can serve useful functions like guarding or sniffing out drugs).

But back to dogfighting…

On this day in 2011 at least 14 people were killed by two bombs at a dog fight in the Afghan province of Kandahar. While no claim of responsibility was made it is almost certain the Taliban were behind it. The terrorist group is no fan of the ‘sport’: while in ‘power’ it had banned the practice, which is apparently a popular pastime in Afghanistan, and a suicide bomber killed 65 people at a dog fight in Kandahar in February 2008.

So, were the people killed because these antediluvian terrorists saw dogfighting as ‘haram’ or because they see any link to dogs as ‘haram’? It is hard to say as the same violent extremists also carried out a suicide attack two days earlier at a buzkashi match in northern Afghanistan, killing at least three people (NB buzkashi is an old game akin to polo except that instead of a ball the riders carry a headless goat filled with sand).

It is more likely that the Taliban just like to kill and maim, all in their perverted attempt to usher in an era of ‘perfect Islam’. Part of that campaign of violence is to attack ordinary events, to cause fear and anxiety.

Besides, it is really worth listening to why the Taliban do anything? I am no fan of pitting dog against dog in a fight to the death (or serious injury) but is it ok to kill the event’s participants?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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