May 5th, 2006

Jihadists Train on Commercial Video Game Mods

Are first-person shooters teaching kids to kill?

Islamist kids, that is...

Reuters reports that modified video games have become part of a "global propaganda campaign" in which jihadists encourage Muslim youth to make war against the United States.

As this week's controversial re-rerating of Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion has reminded us, video games - especially PC games - are relatively easy to modify, or "mod." That fact has not escaped notice of al Qaeda and other militant Islamist organizations, which have modded games like EA's popular modern combat game, Battlefield 2.

An official from the U.S. Deparment of Defense told Congress that the mods can be downloaded from jihadist websites.

"What we have seen is that any video game that comes out... they'll modify it and change the game for their needs," said Dan Devlin, a public diplomacy specialist with the DoD, who testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Also testifying were consultants from Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a Defense contractor based in San Diego which is under contract to monitor militant websites for the U.S. government.

In the BF2 mod, the game's original video trailer has been altered to show a jihadist carrying an automatic weapon into battle with U.S. forces.

"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," the narrator says. Onscreen images in the trailer show video of firefights, helicopter assaults and President Bush calling the war on terrorism a "crusade" in a speech given shortly after September 11th.

EA spokesman Jeff Brown acknowledged that mods are increasingly common, with little game-makers can do about the issue.

"Millions of people create mods on games around the world," Brown said. "We have absolutely no control over them. It's like drawing a mustache on a picture."

GP: A shout-out to numerous GP readers who forwarded this story!

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