Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The vulture that was(n't) a spy

Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Over the past few days a story has surfaced in the Middle East that is truly bizarre. It seems that officials in Saudi Arabia have "arrested" a vulture for being a spy for Israel. My favorite headline was the one from the BBC--"Saudi Arabia 'detains' Israeli vulture for spying."

The vulture was captured in Saudi Arabia, and authorities discovered a GPS transmitter along with a tag bearing the name "Tel Aviv University." Those who discovered the bird turned it over to security forces, and conspiracy theories soon began circulating in the Saudi media describing how Israel was using these high-flying birds to spy on its Arab neighbors.

Officials from the Tel Aviv University have offered a much simpler explanation. The bird was tagged and released back into the wild to monitor its migratory patterns. Much like wildlife here in the United States, Israel was tracking the bird's migration to look for ways to help protect the species. The GPS device tracked the bird's flight; it wasn't capable of spying.

Over the past two months Israel has been accused of training snakes, sharks, and now vultures for nefarious purposes. Arutz 7 offered an interesting explanation as to how such stories could be accepted as fact. "The incidents may reflect a growing irrational hysteria among Arabs surrounding Israel's military prowess and the efficacy of its intelligence services, possibly fueled by the Stuxnet virus' success."

Still, it's a funny story...except perhaps to are the vulture who is now under arrest!

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