A Turkish cosmetics company is defending itself after it accidentally used a picture of a former al-Qaeda leader in a hair removal ad.
The ad features a chest-up image of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as the “principal architect” of the 9/11 attacks, alongside Turkish words that translate to “The hair will not go away because you keep waiting!” according to Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s oldest English-language daily.
“We didn’t know that he was a terrorist. This image is in popular use in Turkish memes on the Internet. The guy is quite hairy, so we thought his body was a good fit for our ad,” a spokeswoman for the company told Hurriyet. “We didn’t want to imply anything political. We didn’t know that it could become an international story. I repeat: We featured him for his hair, not terrorism.”
The spokeswoman said the company had discovered the memes using Mohammed on an online community website similar to 4chan. The photo had circulated around the Internet after its release by the U.S. government in 2003 when Mohammed was captured, according to Vox.