Image released by terrorist group appears to show captured U.S. soldier

A photograph distributed by the Associated Press appearing to show an American soldier held at gunpoint by Muslim terrorists in Iraq might actually be an image of a toy action figure, according to comparisons making the rounds on Internet message boards.

A website often used by radical Islamic groups posted the photo along with a statement from a group called “Mujahedeen Brigades,” which claimed it was holding other soldiers, the AP reported.

Head of toy action figure resembles image in photograph released by terrorists.

“Our mujahadeen heroes of Iraq’s Jihadi Battalion were able to capture American military man John Adam after killing a number of his comrades and capturing the rest,” said the statement.

“God willing, we will behead him if our female and male prisoners are not released from U.S. prisons within the maximum period of 72 hours from the time this statement has been released.”

But the man’s uniform had no U.S. insignia or names visible, according to the AP report, and the figure “appeared stiff and expressionless, and the photo’s authenticity could not be confirmed.”

Posters to the web forum believe they know why.

“Cody” action figure produced by Dragon Models USA was purchased for sale at U.S bases in Kuwait.

In one of the first posts today about the photograph, a user said: “It just doesn’t look right. The boots look like Wolverine Work boots, and I’ve never seen such a vest. I hope it’s a fake.”

After several posts conveying similar skepticism, a contributor said: “Okay, I’m probably wrong and prepared to take the heat. But I think I’ve seen that face before on an ‘action figure.’ And since when has the military began issuing cammied M-4s?”

Then user BladeWLS posted a photograph of a toy soldier produced by Dragon Models USA, which eventually was relayed to the Drudge Report where it received wide circulation.

A spokesman for the company, Liam Cusack, told the AP the image bore a striking resemblance to one of the company’s products, an African-American version of its “Cody” action figure.

“It is our doll … to me it definitely looks like it is,” he said. “Everything the guy is wearing is exactly what comes with our figure.”

Cusack said the toy was ordered for sale at U.S. bases in Kuwait so “they would have been in region.”

On the company’s website, the Dragon toys are described as an “award winning line of highly detailed and historically accurate action figures and accessories. The series include numerous titles from WWII including U.S., German, British and Russian forces as well as many modern military and movie titles. Each figure has its own name, unique headsculpt and numerous accessories.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Staff Sgt. Nick Minecci, said “no units have reported anyone missing.”

Weblogs already have begun poking fun at the AP report, including this post by Jihad Watch titled “GI hostage’s mother pleads for son’s life.”

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