The CIA's Ridiculous Plan To Discredit Bin Laden With Action Figures

Illustration for article titled The CIA's Ridiculous Plan To Discredit Bin Laden With Action Figures

We've all heard about some of the CIA's crazy secret spy plots, like the poisonous cigar they tried to kill Fidel Castro with. But I always assumed that stuff was in the past, right? Wrong. Because the CIA once planned to make demonic Osama bin Laden action figures to turn kids against the Taliban.


As this completely ridiculous report from the Washington Post reveals, the CIA decided to embark on a secret program in 2005 codenamed "Devil Eyes," which would makethese Osama Bin Laden action figures and distribute them in the Middle East. These figures would appear normal at first, but over time their face paint would flake off, revealing a demonic visage underneath.

The project was conceived with the help of the late Don Levine, the co-creator of GI Joe. According to WaPo's sources, hundreds of the figures were made as part of a pre-production run and sent to the Pakistani city of Karachi. The CIA claims operation Devil eyes didn't get quite that far, but didn't deny the program:

"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," said CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani. "After being presented with these examples, the CIA declined to pursue this idea and did not produce or distribute any of these action figures. Furthermore, CIA has no knowledge of these action figures being produced or distributed by others."


So I won't debate whether this was a good use of taxpayer money, although I do kind of wonder if children in pro-Taliban households prior to 2010 consider bin Laden an action hero (I mean, I never really wanted a Ronald Reagan figure when I was growing up, but whatever). Here is my issue:

Bin Laden looks like Darth Maul.

This is for all intents and purposes a Darth bin Laden action figure, and if I was a young, semi-Star-Wars-aware, pro-Taliban kid in the Middle East who was handed a mysteriously free bin Laden action figure that suddenly had that red-and-black face I would think that's the coolest fucking thing I'd ever seen.

Anyways, the whole story is fascinating, if a bit mind-boggling. Infinite thanks to Miles Buckingham for the tip!


Michael Munro

The Darth Maul-ish red and black design might have been intended to represent a djinn. Said to be made of "smokeless fire", the djinn are the equivalent of demons in Islamic and pre-Islamic mythologies.