The CIA Built Prototypes of a Devil-Faced Osama Bin Laden Action Figure

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 19 2014 6:52 PM

The CIA Built Prototypes of a Devil-Faced Osama Bin Laden Action Figure

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The Osama doll's hidden face.

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Strange: the Washington Post reports that the CIA, with help from a toy executive known "the father of the G.I. Joe," once built prototypes of sinister 12-inch Osama Bin Laden action figures meant for distribution to families in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Stranger: the Bin Laden figures' faces were painted with a material that dissolved under heat to reveal a green-eyed, red-faced devil Bin Laden who looked a bit like Star Wars character Darth Maul.

The apparent intent was to make children scared of Osama Bin Laden, and though it doesn't seem that any of the figures were ultimately distributed, it's not clear how far along the plan got before being shelved:

There’s a dispute over how many of the figurines, if any, were ultimately delivered. A person with direct knowledge of the project in China said hundreds of the toys — one of which was seen by The Washington Post — were made as part of a pre-production run and sent on a freighter to the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2006.
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The former Hasbro executive who reportedly assisted the CIA on the project, Donald Levine, died just a few weeks ago.

Irene Chidinma Nwoye is a writer and former Slate intern in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.

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