In Singapore, you could briefly buy fake Lego sets featuring 'Jihadi John,' other terrorists
By AMANDA ERICKSON | The Washington Post | Published: September 29, 2017
On the hunt for a festive children's birthday gift?
In Singapore, you briefly had the chance to snap up a knockoff Lego set featuring Jihadi John, a British-born Islamic State militant filmed beheading several captives. (Actual ad copy from one online site: "Extremist who enjoys blowing things up for fun. One day, he'll blow himself up.") It was one of several terror-themed toy sets for purchase.
Other options included characters described as bombers and militants. Some carried the Islamic State flag. Others featured AK-47's and dynamite. One particularly gruesome offering depicted a decapitated head.
The "Falcon commando" sets, recommended for children ages 6 to 12, were available at a brick-and-mortar store called Carousell and online, according to the Strait Times. The publication was tipped off to the terrorist-themed toys by a reader. After they began investigating, the sets were removed from shelves.
Rohan Gunaratna, who heads up the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told the Times that these toys "glorify ISIS" and "promote incitement and hate."
"The vendors need to be engaged to ensure they do not deliberately or ignorantly promote ISIS," he said. In a statement, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore said it was "extremely concerned that figurines which propagate acts of violence are being offered for sale for the young."
A Lego spokesperson reiterated Thursday to CNBC that the products were "in no way affiliated with the Lego Group."
The origin of the terror toys is not totally clear. The sets were produced in China and have popped up across Asia and Australia. In June, similar sets were pulled after a Malaysian schoolteacher reported the toys to the local Islamic council and police officers. She took particular offense to one character who waved a banner with the words "Allah" and "Muhammad."
"I ask the authorities to not freely allow the entry of toys that touch on religious sensitivities in this country," the teacher, Mahnun Mat Isa, told local news outlets. The sets were once available on Ali Express, but were taken down after a flurry of news reports.