Anonymous posters have flooded the Craigslist Baghdad website with warnings for U.S. troops who use the online personals to find sexual encounters in the war zone. Their message: Watch out for undercover military investigators.
The warnings began to appear after Marine Corps Times published a report in late July detailing service members’ use of the site for random hookups and prostitution. The story described how one Marine was busted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Afghanistan after he used Craigslist Baghdad to arrange to meet another man. The guy he met at Camp Leatherneck, whom he thought was also looking to hook up, turned out to be an undercover agent.
The Craigslist site is presumably a leftover from the U.S. war in Iraq. The majority of the posters now are deployed at bases across Afghanistan. Their ads are often accompanied by nude pictures and graphic language.
The story gained widespread attention from other media outlets, including the Daily Mail in England, the New York Post and Yahoo.com, prompting anonymous Craigslist users to warn troops about the undercover operations.
“Military Be Aware Sting [Operation],” states the headline of a post to inform service members they are being targeted. The writer advises them that the site has been compromised and not to use it.
But a 26-year-old man from Seattle — under the heading “Alert: How Not to be Entrapped” — advises military personnel that it’s OK to use the site, but they have to be careful. “Start with a beer or gym workout to be safe,” he writes. “Let the other person do the initiating.”
Beyond such warnings, a separate wave of posts from stateside Craigslist users offer to hook up with service members once they return from their deployment. One 30-year-old poster located in the U.S. hoped to find a compatible service member to “fall in love with.” He is seeking a “career military man” and adds he “always wanted to be a military ‘wife.’”
Still others seem worried these busts could hurt troops’ morale, with at least one Craigslist poster outwardly expressing sympathy. “I hope it doesn’t ruin possible ‘relief’ zones and methods for y’all to get a little R&R in the private way,” wrote a man from California. “Proud of you boys.”