Cairo became famous as the dog who participated in the raid (Operation Neptune Spear) that killed the notorious leader of al-Qaeda, the organization that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US.
The deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in US history happened on September 11, 2001 when 19 militants belonging to al-Qaeda caused extensive death and destruction in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. After the attacks, hundreds of dogs helped man during this difficult time. Ten years later, one dog named Cairo (a Belgian Malinois) helped man bring justice to the man responsible for the attacks - Osama bin Laden.
On May 2, 2011 bin Laden was killed shortly after 1:00 am PKT after two Black Hawk helicopters carrying Navy SEALs from Team Six, a Pakistani-American translator, and Cairo landed (one was a crash landing) outside the Pakistan compound where the al-Qaeda leader lived. The SEALs brought Cairo along to detect bombs, search out concealed enemies and find secret doors or passageways in the compound. However, because of the helicopter crash, the task list changed. Cairo, four SEALs and the translator were used to help secure the perimeter around the dwelling while six other SEALs stormed the compound. Thirty-eight minutes later bin Laden was shot dead.
Navy SEAL dogs are trained at a very early age to perform missions by sea, air and land. They can swim, parachute and rappel into action, and are as well-equipped as their human teammates. On the night of the raid, Cairo wore a customized body vest made of Kevlar with a night vision camera, radio and other attachable gadgets - costing close to $30,000.
"The capability they [the dogs] bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine," said General David Petraeus in 2011. "By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our industry. Our Army would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource."
Four days after the raid, in a private ceremony honoring Seal Team Six, the squadron commander mentioned Cairo's role to President Obama. "There was a dog?" Obama interrupted. The President was told that Cairo was in an adjoining room, and Obama said "I want to meet that dog." "If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats," the commander joked. The President met Cairo. I am not sure if he had a treat to give, but he did pet the heroic dog.
Time magazine awarded Cairo its prestigious Animal of the Year award in 2011.