On Wednesday morning, Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's ambassador to Britain, posted a message on his personal Twitter account that sought to criticize U.S. ultimatums given to Iraq about Russian involvement in the country.
Yakovenko's message included a photograph that showed a bearded man in a turban laughing — an image apparently designed to show an Islamic State terrorist rejoicing.
However, as actor and former White House official Kal Penn noted on Twitter, that image does not show a real terrorist. Instead, it features a scene from the 2008 film "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."
You can see a clip of that moment here. It shows Kumar Patel, an Indian American character played by Penn, donning a fake beard, wig and turban aboard a plane and making a joke about being a terrorist. In case you are unfamiliar with the "Harold & Kumar" films, it should be noted that they are often described as "stoner comedies."
Penn's mocking tweet has been retweeted hundreds of times in the past few hours. Shortly after it was posted, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in London responded, attempting to explain the error.
The image of "Kumar" dressed as a "terrorist" appears to be high in the Google results of searches for "terrorist laughing," which may explain why Yakovenko included it in his tweet.
It is worth noting that both the Russian Embassy in London and Yakovenko have used their Twitter accounts to criticize and mock Western policy and its attitude toward Russia — sometimes with a fair amount of success. However, Yakovenko's accidental use of an image of an Indian American from a stoner comedy to show an Islamic State terrorist is a sign that this online mockery can backfire.
Penn highlighted the absurdity of the situation by tweeting an image of Ivan Drago, a character from the film "Rocky IV." Drago's character in the 1985 film is supposed to be from the Soviet Union, but he was, in fact, played by Dolph Lundgren, a Swedish actor.
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