Washington: President Donald Trump has tweeted a fake image of himself awarding a medal of honour to the military dog injured in the daring raid that killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria.
Baghdadi, 48, died on Saturday after the world’s most wanted terrorist was chased by the US special forces along with military working dogs. He blew up his suicide vest following the US raid on his compound in Syria’s Idlib province.
“AMERICAN HERO!” wrote Trump in an all-caps tweet accompanying the photo of the dog he said chased down al-Baghdadi in a Syrian tunnel before the ISIS leader killed himself.
The image, apparently produced by the Daily Wire, a conservative site, is an altered version of an actual photograph of Trump awarding the medal of honour in 2017 to James McCloughan, a retired army medic who was honoured for saving the lives of 10 people during the Vietnam war, The New York Times reported.
In the image tweeted by the US president, McCloughan’s head has been replaced with the head of the dog, the Belgian Malinois named in media reports as “Conan”, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
When Trump first tweeted the dog’s photo on Tuesday, he said the pooch’s image was declassified, but its name wasn’t. But early on Thursday morning, he appeared to confirm the dog’s name was Conan, without saying if it remained classified. He also said the dog would leave the Middle East for the White House next week.
Trump has spoken of the dog in glowing terms in the days since the raid.
“Our K-9,’ as they call it, I call it a dog. A beautiful dog, a talented dog was injured and brought back,” he said on Sunday.
McCloughan laughed when a Times reporter showed him the two images. Military dogs “are very courageous”, he said.
The president’s post caused howls of laughter among some Twitter users, while others clearly had a bone to pick with the decision to crop out a war hero or with the quality of the Photoshop job.
“What a way to treat a war hero. Also, look forward to the tick tock about how much time Trump spends asking about the dog and how much executive branch effort is being made to get the dog to the White House,” said one follower.
“Somewhere out there, Donald Trump Jr is photoshopping his face over the dog’s face,” wrote another.
“This hero pup was raised to protect us, so Trump had to photoshop this picture because the dog would bite him,” another user tweeted.
It wasn’t the dog’s first brush with fame. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted another photo of the “wonderful” animal who was injured during the raid.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said the dog “performed a tremendous service, as they all do” In August, Trump tweeted a fake image of a gleaming Trump Tower on Greenland, a country that he had reportedly talked about buying. He has also tweeted a doctored GIF of him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.