Hoaxes & Rumors

Classic Hoax: Iraqi Militants Capture Toy Soldier

Classic Hoax: Iraqi Militants Capture Toy Soldier

Nearly a decade ago, Iraqi militants attempted to pass off a picture of a detailed action figure as a real prisoner. Today we revisit this laughable hoax.

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Iraqi Militants Claim Captured Soldier

In early 2005, several major news networks reported that Iraqi militants claimed to have captured an American soldier by the name of “John Adam.” A picture of the soldier was released along with a statement on a website commonly associated with credible insurgent declarations. In the message, the combatants asserted that they had apprehended the hostage after killing and capturing a number of American soldiers. They went on to demand the release of prisoners held by the U.S. or the pictured captive would be beheaded within 72 hours.

This photo of a "captured soldier" was released by Iraqi militants.

This photo of a “captured soldier” was released by Iraqi militants.

Debunking the Captured Soldier Hoax

Soon after the statement’s release, a Staff Sgt. with the U.S. military’s press office in Baghdad announced that “No units have reported anyone missing.”

Skepticism was also immediately expressed regarding the gritty photograph accompanying the demands. The snapshot appeared to show an expressionless African American soldier dressed in desert-camouflage sitting against a concrete wall with a machine gun aimed towards his head. Behind the figure hung a black banner inscribed with misspelled Arabic decrees.


The “Cody” action figure.

No ID card, U.S. emblems, and/or name tags were visible in the picture, and U.S. Military authorities announced that the equipment worn by the alleged prisoner did not match that of any Army issued supplies.

Liam Cusack, an executive for Dragon Models USA Inc., quickly came forward to announce that he had been contacted by retailers who had recognized the character in the photograph as one of his company’s action figures. In an interview with the Associated Press, Cusack claimed, “It is our doll. … To me, it definitely looks like it is. Everything the guy is wearing is exactly what comes with our figure.”

Cusack and others noted the compelling likeness between the suspicious prisoner and the foot-tall African American rendition of the “Cody” figurine manufactured by Dragon Models. Even the machine gun in the snapshot resembled the rifle packaged with the toy.

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Prior to the incident, several thousand variants of the “Cody” doll, selling for approximately $40 each, had been sold on nearby U.S. bases in Kuwait.

A day after the initial story was reported, Pentagon officials told FOX News that they believed the event was likely a hoax and that the individual in the image was actually the “Cody” figure.

Bottom Line

Iraqi militants claimed to have captured an American soldier in 2005. At the time, no soldiers had been reported missing and several anomalies were noticed in a photograph apparently depicting the captive. It was soon discovered that the picture was really that of a realistic action figure doll sold on U.S. military bases in Kuwait, and the Pentagon declared the episode a hoax.

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