On Tuesday, U.S. forces dropped leaflets in the Parwan province in Afghanistan to try and persuade the local people to turn in terrorist fighters to the authorities. By Wednesday, a top commander had apologized for the “highly offensive” material.
The image depicts a lion hunting a dog and states, “Take back your freedom from the terrorist dogs and cooperate with coalition forces so they can target your enemy and eliminate them.” However, because dogs are unclean to Muslims, and because it had a verse from the Koran used by the Taliban printed on its coat, Islamic leaders condemned the U.S.
“Those who have committed this unforgivable mistake in the publicity, propaganda or media section of the coalition forces will be tried and punished,” said Parwin Governor Mohammad Hasem.
According to Reuters, “The Taliban said the leaflet showed American hatred of Islam, adding that it had launched a suicide attack near the entrance to the U.S. Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in revenge:”
The Taliban, fighting to restore strict Islamic rule to Afghanistan and drive out foreign forces, issued a statement saying the leaflet made clear “that this war is a war between Islam and unbelief”.
The insurgent movement claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the U.S. base at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul that local officials said wounded four Afghan civilians, although the Taliban itself said 20 Americans were killed.
Major General James Linder, the head of Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, issued a profuse apology on behalf of the United States:
“The design of the leaflets mistakenly contained an image highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam. I sincerely apologize. We have the deepest respect for Islam and our Muslim partners worldwide. Resolute Support remains committed to Afghanistan's future, and I offer my sincerest apologies for this error.”
Linder went on to promise a full investigation “to determine the cause of this incident and to hold the responsible party accountable.”