A Turkish Hair Removal Ad Featured This Terrorist

by Clarissa-Jan Lim

The words "hair removal product" and "al Qaeda" don't usually go hand in hand, but a Turkish cosmetics company has bridged the very separate worlds of excessive body hair and terrorist masterminds. They're now on the defensive for accidentally using the image of former al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on a hair removal advertisement.

The Epila ad features a mustachioed and disheveled-looking Mohammed — sometimes known as KSM — in a scoop neck white tee that really brings out his abundance of chest and shoulder hair. The slogan in Turkish reads: “Waiting won’t get rid of that hair!” Or, according to Vox, translates literally as, “The hair will not go away because you keep waiting!”

Mehmet Can Yıldız, a representative from Epila, told Hurriyet Daily that the company did not recognize KSM as a terrorist. The picture was found on İnci Sözlük, an online social community website that was Turkey's version of 4chan, the controversial online message board involved in the nude photo leak. Yıldız said:

We featured him for his hair, not terrorism. 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.

The picture, since released by the U.S. government in 2003, is pretty famous. Vox reported that the image is indicative of KSM's capture by the U.S. and subsequent torture. The U.S. Justice Department published a memo in 2009 detailing the 183 times he was waterboarded in March 2003. He is currently still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

KSM is a very unlikely figure for a cosmetic product. Terry McDermott, co-author of the book, "The Hunt For KSM", wrote in The Daily Beast:

From the early 1990s forward, as nearly as we can tell, KSM has done nothing but conceive, plan, and execute terrorist plots. He himself has admitted responsibility in full or part for 31 separate plots. The true number is probably much larger. He conspired to kill Americans, Pakistanis, Tunisians, Indonesians, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, among many others.

Yıldız had also told Hurriyet that the memes online featuring KSM were often related to insomnia, adding:

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.

There hasn't been word on whether the ad has since been pulled or not, but perchance the cosmetic company is looking to branch out in the opposite direction, I'd suggest cashing in on New York City's ripe market for facial hair transplants.

Images Getty Images