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Trade an Arafat for a bin Laden?

by JTA Staff

January 3, 2002 | 7:00 pm

Baseball players.

Pokemon monsters.

Terrorists.

What do they have in common? They're featured in trading cards.

A line of "Anti-Terrorist Trading Cards" came on the market last month. While suspected terrorists make up the lion's share of the cards, the series also features U.S. leaders, U.S. weapons, forms of biological warfare and heroes and symbols such as rescue workers, the White House and the Statue of Liberty.

Detractors say the cards' creators wanted to make a quick buck off the Sept. 11 terror attack on New York and Washington. But one of the cards' creators, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he designed them to disseminate accurate information about suspected terrorists.

"For me it's strictly to get the information out," the creator said. Because of the cards' high production cost and relatively low price, "the cards won't have a high profit margin," he said.

The series categorizes Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat as a suspected terrorist. The cards' creator, who is Jewish and has family in Israel, is aware that not everyone considers Arafat a terrorist.

"He's a terrorist leader; he's a confirmed murderer," the creator said. "This man has shaken hands with our president. It's not something I think should be happening. So by putting their names on these cards we're just letting people know that we think they are terrorists."

Arafat's is only one of 42 cards in the "suspected terrorist" category, but it's the one featured on the company's Web site.

This is not the only series of trading cards related to Sept. 11 on the market.

Topps, an established trading card company, has released a series titled "Enduring Freedom." But the Topps series emphasizes U.S. military and political leaders rather than terrorists. In fact, Osama bin Laden is the only terrorist in the series. (At least, he's the only one featured as a terrorist. Topps does feature Arafat, but in its "The World Supports America" section, where Arafat is shown giving blood "for the Americans." )

So far, business has been slow, said the creator of the cards. The company has done little advertising, and its Web site, which is the sole method of distribution, has received just 500 hits and one order since its launch several weeks ago. The cards' creator remains hopeful, however, figuring that business will pick-up in the next few months through word of mouth.

Meanwhile, he focuses on his mission: "I'm going to get the American people interested and get them angry at the right people."

The "Anti-Terrorist Trading Cards" can be seen at www.terroristtradingcardcentral.com. The Topps cards can be seen at www.topps.com .

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