Terrorist-Made Game Not Made by Terrorists

Over the past couple week, a mind-bogglingly ludicrous situation has been unfolding in Washington, and believe it or not, it has something to do with video games. A recent Reuters story describes a frightening video constructed from DICE's Battlefield 2. The video depicts what is allegedly a version of the game modified by "tech-savvy militants from al Queda" that is used to recruit young Muslims to fight against the United States. "I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," says the video's chilling narrator. "What we have seen is that any video game that comes out ... [al Queda will] modify it and change the game for their needs," said the Defense Department's Dan Devlin. Devlin gave a presentation for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Scary stuff! Turn up the Homeland Security Advisory System another notch. Of course, what the video actually depicts is completely standard footage from Battlefield 2: Special Forces, with absolutely no modifications installed. And that voiceover? It's lifted directly from 2004's puppet animated film Team America: World Police written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Game Politics has a chat with the BF2 video's creator, a 25 year old masters degree holder working as a quality manager for a hospital. The author of the video is Muslim but created the video entirely as a joke, which would likely have been obvious to his target audience: fellow gamers, many of whom have likely seen the film from which the narration was taken. He created the video some six months ago, and is suprised not only that there was any reaction at all but also, since a reaction has erupted, that it took so long to arrive.

CM: Do you regret having made the video at all? Or releasing it, considering how it's being treated by the media?

SJ: I don't regret making the video. It wasn't intended for the purpose what it was portrayed to be by the media. So no I don't regret making a funny video.. why should I? The only thing I regret is thinking that news from Reuters was objective and always right. The least they could do is some online research before publishing this. If they label me al-Qaeda just for making this silly video, that makes you think, what is this al-Qaeda? And is everything al-Qaeda? Or has this name become synonymous to the "communist" labeling a few decades ago...

CM: Have you seen any videos al-Qaeda uses to recruit members? Were any used as a template or inspiration for your film?

SJ: Everybody has seen videos of al-Qaeda. [They are] constantly in the news. If they were an inspiration... not directly no. The C4 blowing up and RPG are very popular in the game. You could say those are exactly the tools being used by al-Qaida, but to link this game to that organisation goes too far even for me. And I personally think it's a shame that BF 2 is put in a bad spotlight. I think whats wonderful about this game is that there are no politics at all. There is no good or bad, there are no evildoers. You can chose each side you want and enjoy the game. Hmmm that's not the case with America's Army. A game that was meant to recruit people. Do I smell a little bit of hypocrisy?

The Reuters article had two contributors, one of whom is credited for "additional reporting." Dan Devlin is frequently credited in various articles as a "Pentagon public diplomacy specialist."

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