- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2004

From combined dispatches

PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. — Some Americans this Fourth of July plan to get a bang out of blowing Osama bin Laden’s head off.

The Bin Laden Noggin, a cone-shaped pyrotechnic device with a cartoon of bin Laden’s face, has been a hot seller at some fireworks stores across the country. When lighted, the bin Laden cone erupts in blood-red flames and screeches for 60 seconds. Two shots blow off his head.

It is part of an Exploding Terrorists Heads four-pack that also includes Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Moammar Gadhafi.

Another hot seller in some places: Game Over, a package of three artillery shots decorated like bin Laden, Saddam and Col. Gadhafi in striped jail uniforms.

Both sets of fireworks are made in China.

Suzi Hoffman, whose husband returned in May after spending eight months working as an electrician in Baghdad, was amused by the heads while shopping for fireworks in suburban Omaha.

“I thought they should have shot Saddam in the head when they found him,” she said. “So, this is a great way to get your aggression out.”

Lisa Myer of Papillion was appalled when she heard about the fireworks while shopping for smoke bombs and sparklers for her son.

“What are we trying to teach our children?” she asked.

The fireworks are the latest products that poke fun of newsmakers, good and bad.

Herobuilders.com last year introduced a popular talking doll of infamous Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahhaf, whose increasingly ludicrous tirades on television earned him legions of fans as “Baghdad Bob” during the war on Iraq.

The company also has sold dolls based on Saddam, bin Laden, President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban.”

These days, toy stores across Baghdad are doing a quick trade in the dancing Saddam — a foot-high, battery-powered doll of the former president, dressed as an insurgent and swinging its hips to cheesy pop music at the flick of a switch.

Decked out with hand grenades, daggers, a walkie-talkie, binoculars and an AK-47, and with a chubby plastic head topped by a beret, Saddam dances to the “Hippy Hippy Shake.”

The owner of the al-Jelawi toy store in Mansour in Baghdad started offering the dolls shortly after Saddam’s regime was overthrown in April last year.

A Turkish traveling salesmen turned up with the Chinese-made figures, also featuring dancing bin Laden, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Mr. Bush, and he placed an order.

At first it was the hip-shaking Osamas that sold best, but slowly Iraqis grew less fearful of ridiculing their deposed president and started buying the Saddam dolls, too.

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