The US’ top spy agency CIA toyed with idea of popularising an Osama bin Laden doll with an evil-looking face to turn Afghan children away from the then al-Qaeda chief.
For more than a decade, the CIA has deployed drones, satellites, spies, informants and tracking devices to thwart al-Qaeda. The spy agency also considered a plan to wage war with toys, The Washington Post reported.
Beginning in about 2005, the CIA began secretly developing a custom-made bin Laden action figure, according to people familiar with the project.
The face of the figure was painted with a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and show a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings.
The goal of the short-lived project was to spook children and their parents in Afghanistan to turn them away from the actual bin Laden.
The code-name for the bin Laden figures was ‘Devil Eyes’, the report said.
To create the doll, the CIA turned to one of the best minds in the toy business, the report said quoting those familiar with the project.
The toymaker was Donald Levine, the former Hasbro executive who was instrumental in the creation of the wildly popular G.I. Joe toys that generated more than USD 5 billion in sales after hitting the shelves in 1964.
“The CIA’s interest in Levine was twofold: He had an eye for toys and a vast network of contacts in China, where the bin Laden action figures were ultimately manufactured. Levine had done business there for nearly 60 years and had the means to have the action figures discreetly developed and manufactured,” the daily said.
There’s a dispute over how many of the figurines, if any, were ultimately delivered, the report said.
A person with direct knowledge of the project in China said hundreds of the toys were made as part of a pre-production run and sent on a freighter to the Pakistanicity of Karachi in 2006.
However, the CIA, while not disputing that it had commissioned the bin Laden figures, said the project was discontinued shortly after the prototypes were developed.
“To our knowledge, there were only three individual action figures ever created, and these were merely to show what a final product might look like,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani was quoted as saying.
Bin Laden was killed in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, in a covert raid carried out by the Navy SEALs on a special order issued by President Obama.