A “demonic” Osama bin Laden action figure with a terrifying red face and green eyes was developed by the CIA to scare children and their parents, it has emerged.
At first the toy looked normal – wearing traditional clothing – but as children played with it the heat from their hands would dissolve paint on its face, revealing the evil bin Laden beneath.
The Washington Post discovered the plans, which were code-named “Devil Eyes” by the spy agency.
The CIA is known for its covert “influence operations”, trying to gain the support of local people in conflicts through the decades.
As well as the bin Laden toy, which started development in 2005, forces in Afghanistan were also going to give out notebooks, pencils and games to foster goodwill with children, the Washington Post reported.
The idea was to undermine support for the al-Qa'ida leader, who was then in hiding and being hunted by US forces as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continued.
An anonymous source told the Washington Post famous toymaker Donald Levine, a former Hasbro executive, was drafted by the CIA to create the bin Laden doll.
He died last month aged 86, but his family said he had been “honoured” to be involved.
Despite claims that hundreds of the 12-inch figures were sent to Pakistan in 2006, the CIA said the project was discontinued after prototypes were developed.
A spokesman for the agency, K. J. Caldwell, admitted the CIA "proposed" the plan but said it was rejected early in development.
“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," the spokesman added.
"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.”