Gamers quibble over trees while missing a forest:
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.
In the rush to prove their worth it is entirely conceivable that a contractor ran off without double checking details – the video’s creator does after all go by the nickname “Sonic Jihad” is Moroccan-Dutch and loves the genteel sounds of NWA and Public Enemy – though one has to wonder where the COTR and government project manager were on the days preceding their appearance on the Hill . . .
Regardless, while this particular video may not have been created by Jihadists, its value as a recruiting tool is undiminished. Let us also not forget the broader theme here of terrorists adopting the computer-based training approach, which has been going on for some time.