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Thursday, September 21st, 2006

British Official Calls for Investigation of Al Qaeda Video Game

Police in the U.K. may soon be tracking down the creators of a computer game designed as an Al Qaeda propaganda tool.

On Monday, GamePolitics reported on Night of Bush Capturing, a crude first-person shooter in which the player targets President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The widely-covered story even made its way into the mainstream press.

Now comes word that a member of Parliament is urging British police to take action against the game's creators. As reported by today's Sun, Labor Party MP Andrew Dismore has called for a probe into Night of Bush Capturing. The shadowy organization which produced the game, the Global Islamic Media Front, is apparently based in the U.K.

"The police should prosecute whoever is behind this," said Dismore. "Soliciting murder is a serious criminal offence and the producers of this game should be dealt with."

Dismore has previously lobbied against British-based Islamic radicals, including cleric Abu Hamza, now jailed for inciting murder.

The Sun also dishes on the furor surrounding a new board game, War on Terror (seen at left), which bills itself as "a family game for 2-6 players... You can fight terrorism, you can fund terrorism, you can even be the terrorists. The only thing that matters is global domination..."

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Monday, September 18th, 2006

Islamic Radicals Release "Night of Bush Capturing" Game

According to the terrorism trackers at the Site Institute, radical jihadists have released a new anti-American computer game.

Night of Bush Capturing is an first-person shooter based on the Quest for Saddam engine. The game features six levels with names such as "Jihad Beginning", "America's Hell" and "Bush Hunted Like a Rat". A soundtrack of Jihadist music loops during play.

The game was released on Friday by the Global Islamic Media Front, described by the Site Institute as "a jihadist mouthpiece". Site reports that an ad for Night of Bush Capturing says that the game is being distributed for "terrorist children".

Hot Air has links to a download of the game as well as a video trailer.

GP: As we described in recent coverage, this continues a jihadi trend to communicate radical Islamic themes through game technology.

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Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

In Wake of 9/11 Anniversary, 1up Looks at "Islamogaming"

In a thought-provoking 1up piece which originally appeared in the September issue of Computer Gaming World magazine, Ed Halter surveys games with radical Islamic political themes.

Halter, author of From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games reports on:

  • the recent war of game design themes between U.S. firm Kuma Reality and Iran's Union of Islamic Student Societies

  • The Stone Throwers (screen shot at left), created by Syrian Mohammad Hamza, in which Palestinian rioters battle with Israeli riot police

  • The Resistance, a game published by Innovative Minds, a U.K.-based Islamic software firm, in which players assume the role of Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon.
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    Monday, June 12th, 2006

    Video Game Company Rattles Sabres With Iran

    How bizarre is it when the makers of an online computer game engage in threat escalation with a hostile foreign government?

    But that seems to be what's happening between the Iranian government and Kuma Reality Games, publishers of the episodic, military-themed, first-person shooter Kuma War.

    GamePolitics readers may recall our recent coverage of an Iranian claim that members of the Union of Islamic Student Societies were developing a PC game in which "Commander Bahman," an elite Iranian special forces operative, undertakes an eight-level mission to rescue an Iranian atomic scientist seized by U.S. troops in Iraq. The Iranians were apparently angered by an earlier Kuma War episode, Assault on Iran.

    Although sparse on details, the proposed Iranian game received wide coverage in the mainstream press, which apparently prompted Kuma Reality to offer a riposte. The New York-based company issued a press release on Friday which carried the headline, "Kuma Reality Games Sparks Virtual Dialogue With Iran Over Nuclear Arms Dispute"
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    Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

    Iranian Vaporware Game Draws Wide Coverage

    There are no screen shots. No video trailers. No official website or bulletin board. No list of features. No developer bios. Nothing about the game engine, or whether it is an original design or a mod. Not even a title.

    Despite that, a Reuters story outlining only sketchy details on an apparent Iranian war game, received wide play over the past couple of days, thanks to a single word:

    Nukes.

    Iran's developing nuclear program, of course, has become an international concern.

    As reported by Reuters, the purported PC game lets players step into the boots of "Commander Bahman," an elite Iranian special forces operative. The game's hero must undertake an eight-level mission to rescue "Doctor Kousha," an Iranian atomic scientist seized by U.S. troops during a pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Kerbala in Iraq.

    Reuters cites Iran's semi-official Fars New Agency as its source on the story. According to Fars, the game was designed by Iranian school children who are members of the Union of Islamic Student Societies. Fars added that the game would be available before next March (welcome to crunch time, kids).

    Iranian officials apparently view the game as a retort to Assault on Iran, a downloadable mission for Kuma Reality's Kuma Wars game. Kuma Wars is a first-person shooter which offers users episodic mission content. In addition to the Iran scenario, Kuma offers numerous missions in Iraq, as well as others portraying realistic combat in Afghanistan, Korea, and along the U.S.-Mexican border.

    Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

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    Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

    GamePolitics Shows Up In Australian News Program

    Several GP readers from Down Under wrote in to let us know that an Australian news magazine show called MediaWatch recently covered the controversy over the so-called Battlefield 2 Jihad Video. GamePolitics played a major part in busting that story wide open a couple of weeks back thanks primarily to correspondent Colin McInnes' revealing interview with the creator of the video, a Dutch gamer by the name of Samir.

    In their investigative report, MediaWatch quoted liberally from our Samir interview and even flashed some GP screen shots. The show also provided a link to the full GP article. Although MediaWatch unfortunately referred to us as the "LiveJournal website" and not GamePolitics, we're still happy to see our coverage getting picked up by T.V. news.

    By the way, Reuters, which started the controversy with its initial flawed coverage of the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing, has finally gotten around to its own interview with Samir. The Reuters reporter, who apparently plied Samir with lunch at Burger King, didn't get nearly as much information as Colin.

    Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

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    Thursday, May 11th, 2006

    Was Congress Misled by "Terrorist" Game Video? We Talk to Gamer Who Created the Footage

    Was an elite congressional intelligence committee shown video footage from an off-the-shelf retail game and told by the Pentagon and a highly-paid defense contractor that it was a jihadist creation designed to recruit and indoctrinate terrorists?

    It's looking more and more like that is the case.

    The bizarre story began to unfold last week when Reuters reported that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was shown video footage of combat action which was represented as a user-modified version (or "mod") of Electronic Art's best-selling Battlefield 2, a modern-day military simulation which features combat between U.S. forces and those of the fictitious Middle East Coalition (MEC) as well as the People's Republic of China.

    Reuters quoted a Pentagon official, Dan Devlin, as saying, "What we have seen is that any video game that comes out... (al Qaeda will) modify it and change the game for their needs."

    The influential committee, chaired by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), watched footage of animated combat in which characters depicted as Islamic insurgents killed U.S. troops in battle. The video began with the voice of a male narrator saying, "I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters..."

    Several GP readers immediately noticed that the voice-over was actually lifted from Team America: World Police, an outrageous 2004 satirical film produced by the creators of the popular South Park comedy series. At about the same time, gamers involved in the online Battlefield 2 community were pointing out the video footage shown to Congress was not a mod of BF2 at all, but standard game footage from EA's Special Forces BF2 add-on module, a retail product widely available in the United States and elsewhere.

    GamePolitics has been seeking comment on the video from the Pentagon and Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), a defense contractor based in San Diego. Committee chair Hoekstra's office referred GP back to the committee for comment. A call there had not been returned by press time.

    According to Reuters, the U.S. government is paying SAIC $7 million to monitor Islamist web sites, which is where they apparently discovered a copy of the footage. However, the video can also readily be accessed via links found in the user forums of the popular Planet Battlefield site, operated by IGN Entertainment of Brisbane, California.

    It is unclear whether SAIC vetted the origin of the video before showing it to key members of Congress and representing it as a terrorist recruiting tool.

    But GP correspondent Colin McInnes has investigated the origin of the video. On behalf of GamePolitics, Colin tracked down "Sonic Jihad," the creator of the video for this revealing interview, conducted via e-mail. The video creator's screen name is apparently a tribute to an album called Sonic Jihad, by an American rapper who performs under the name Paris.

    CM: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

    SJ: I am Samir. I was born and raised in Holland. But my parents are from Moroccan origin. I'm 25 years old. I have a master degree in management, economics and law. I work for a hospital as a quality manager implementing the ISO quality certificate. My hobbies are Battlefield 2, movies and Thai-Boxing.
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