Terrorist Video Game or Pentagon Snafu?


What if terrorists took an American video game, twisted it into an anti-American video game and posted it on insurgent Web sites, complete with a splashy high-tech advertisement? And what if the goal of the video game was to attract new, young terrorists and condition them to kill U.S soldiers?

The Pentagon testified that is exactly what happened with a video game called "Battlefield 2: Armored Fury." But the maker of the "advertisement" says he was only making a spoof video out of his favorite game -- not recruiting terrorists.

In a hearing last month, Pentagon officials and contractors told a House Intelligence Committee that terrorists are increasingly using the Internet -- including this game -- for propaganda and recruitment purposes.

Eric Michael, an Internet specialist with Science Applications International, detailed for the committee various ways that insurgent and terrorist forces were using the Internet, "and nowhere is this more evident than in the computer games that they're using as they target the youth," he said.

He then showed video from what he called "the advertisement" for a game "made by an American company, but they've created a new trailer and a plug-in, which if you register and send them $25, you can play it."

Michael said the game psychologically conditions users to kill coalition forces.

Congress heralded the $7 million that goes to the Pentagon and private contractor, Science Applications International, in order to monitor insurgent Web sites and make sure the military is aware of how certain information can be used against the U.S.

There was just one problem with the testimony, according to some computer game experts.

"It's just plain inaccurate," said Ian Bogost, a game designer, critic and commentator, and assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"The testimony provided seemed to claim that a video game was created by a terrorist or a terrorist group with terrorist interests, when in fact, it was actually a commercial game sold by a commercial American company that a particular player had just kind of made a fan film about and distributed it online," Bogost said.

Movie Audio Becomes 'Propaganda'

According to the game's creators -- video game giant Electronic Arts in Redwood City, Calif. -- Battlefield 2 wasn't altered to have Arabs killing U.S. soldiers.

As is common with many video games, Battlefield 2 players can chose to be in any number of armies -- including the U.S., Chinese and an Arab one called the Middle East Coalition.

Samir, a video game fan who lives in Europe, told ABC News that he made the short film Pentagon officials have called an "advertisement" for this terrorist game that doesn't seem to actually exist.

Samir, who asked that only his first name be used, said the short film he posted on the Internet was not an advertisement for anything; he says he did it just for fun. "I don't know what the fuss is about," he said.

Samir says Battlefield 2 has an in-game recorder, so players can make their own movies.

"I didn't even know what to do with it until I one day saw a movie called 'Team America: World Police,'" Samir said.

"Team America: World Police" is a 2004 movie made by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of animated TV show, "South Park," and Samir incorporated the audio from one scene.

In the context of a Pentagon briefing, it can sound menacing, but in "Team America: World Police," the little speech is a mockery of anti-U.S. rhetoric:

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