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I've heard in various places - chief among them, Will Ferrell's 'You're Welcome America' - that Morocco contributed monkeys for bomb or land mine detonation in the 2003 Iraq War. Did this deal actually go through? If so, what role did these monkeys play in the war effort?

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2 Answers

It appears that this claim originally appeared in al Usbu' al-Siyassi. e.g. Washington Post attributes it to them, but many others repeat the claim.

Was it true?

According to Arabic News:

Morocco's Communication ministry denied on Monday that Morocco sold monkeys to the US army to be used for mine clearance in Iraq, as was reported by French satellite TV channel LCI and UPI news agency.

In a clarification sent to the two media, the Communication department termed this information as "whimsical and unfounded."

We are still stuck with the question of who to believe: Can you believe the Arabic News over al Usbu' al-Siyassi? How about the Communication department of Morocco over LCI and UPI? Why did they need to issue a "clarification" rather than a "denial", or am I reading too much into the wording?

However, it seems unlikely that an actual deployment of 2,000 monkeys could go unnoticed by the press photographers, so I am inclined to believe the denials.

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I tried to find the denial on the Morrocan Ministry of Communication web-site, but it appears communicating with the English-speaking world isn't their priority. –  Oddthinking Nov 1 '11 at 10:41
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Did you try Google Translate? –  DVK Nov 1 '11 at 11:02
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Also, same logic applies as to the fake moon landing. Does anyone seriously think that if even ONE monkey was used in such a manner, all sorts of animal rights people and opponents of Iraq War wouldn't make a giant stink out of this with Congressional Hearings, gazillion protests, etc...? –  DVK Nov 1 '11 at 11:04
    
@DVK: I don't really expect an 8-year-old press release to still be around, and Google Translate didn't help typing in search terms, so I gave up. (I found a secret link to the English-language version, but it is all just placeholder text.) –  Oddthinking Nov 1 '11 at 11:17
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I agree in both cases, @jwenting. I wish I could find the original text to (a) confirm the meaning and (b) eliminate Arabic News from the chain-of-evidence. –  Oddthinking Nov 1 '11 at 14:45
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Al osbou' assahafi is (or was, I think it might have closed) a satirical publication. Not unlike le Canard Enchainé in France and Private Eye in the UK. This was obviously not news but satire and treated as such in Morocco. Atlas Monkeys are an endangered species in Morocco and I doubt there would be 2000 in the wild to begin with, let alone to train as kamikaze landmine detonators.

Ps: In French, you always send a communiqué pour clarifier (to clarify). I gives the parties the possibility to shelve the situation as a misunderstanding. Denial (nier) is reserved to direct accusations and conveys a significant enough outrage for confrontation.

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