"America's Army", meet "Infidel Online"

You're the Bad Guy Here

Tech-savvy militants from al Qaida and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic heroes, a Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.

"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 Defense Department public diplomacy specialist. [...]

The sites use a variety of emotionally charged content, from images of real U.S. soldiers being hit by snipers in Iraq to video-recordings of American televangelists including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell making disparaging remarks about Islam. [...]

Battlefield 2 ordinarily shows U.S. troops engaging forces from China or a united Middle East coalition. But in a modified video trailer posted on Islamic websites and shown to lawmakers, the game depicts a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders.

"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," a narrator's voice said as the screen flashed between images of street-level gunfights, explosions and helicopter assaults.

Then came a recording of President Bush's September 16, 2001 statement: "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." It was edited to repeat the word "crusade," which Muslims often define as an attack on Islam by Christianity.

I understand that the traditional response here would be lol pwn3d!!1

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27 Responses:

  1. roninspoon says:

    "I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters,"

    Isn't that a line from Team America: World Police. I'm pretty sure that's how the actor started out the story he told to the terrorists so that they would accept him as one of their own.

    If so, I'm trying to decide if that's as funny as Bert showing up in Islamic protest banners.

    • giles says:

      Comedy aside, it makes me want to scream "hoax." Wouldn't an Islamic militant find it a bit difficult to fast forward through all the "Derka Derka Mohammed Jihad" just to get a soundbite for a mod?

      Why are they making mods anyway, can't they just play Counterstrike and turn off automatic team balancing?

      • 33mhz says:

        If they can sit through Pat Robertson sermons for relevant soundbites, they can sit through anything.

      • Can you imagine the ping rate to someone on SAT Internet in the middle east?

        Bandwidth, sure, but the latency blows, which is kind of a shame.

      • wntd says:

        It's not even a mod, it's bad writing. The special forces class on the Insurgent team in Battlefield 2 wears the headdress. In fact, when you play the game, you're randomly assigned to either the US or ME Coalition/PLA. It's not "us versus them" by any means. I ended up writing about three paragraphs into boingboing's submission form before I realized I was wasting my valuable time on Cory Doctorow and Xeni Jardin--but it seems someone already sent in a correction, however poor.

        Aside: the special forces class gets five bricks of C4 that stick to objects, including vehicles. About two hours after the demo was released, people had already figured out "jihad jeeping"--loading a vehicle with all of your C4, driving it into a group of enemies and detonating it--was a very effective tactic. Everybody did this, whether they were playing US, MEC or PLA. About two weeks after release, they were doing it with whatever they could get their hands on--APCs, Tanks, Bradleys, what have you. This culminated in the use of transport helicopters: strap it on the nose of your Blackhawk and you have a manned, unpredictable $50 million precision bomb.

        They removed the ability to stick C4 on players early in testing in order to avoid connotations of suicide bombing, but the players just worked around it.

  2. encapsulate says:

    At the end of the article they put this in there.

    "Critics of the U.S. video game industry have long blamed the products for violence among American teenagers in civilian society, including high-profile shootings at public schools."

    It adds nothing but confusion to what exactly is being discussed.

  3. herbie says:

    How do they know *who* did this? Couldn't it just have been some average, American modder, eithr trying to make a joke or a statement?

  4. hexapod says:

    "SAIC executive Eric Michael said researchers suspect Islamic militants are using video games to train recruits and condition youth to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq."

    Ah! Sort of like we're training the kids to attack A-rabs!

  5. xenogram says:

    What surprises me is that anybody would think this is surprising.

    • kamaraga says:


      Excellent photos, thanks for posting them.

      You can find many more such images at MilitaryPhotos.net, and be sure to visit their "Contemporary Military Photos" and "User Submitted Photos" sections. Most photos are from modern-day Iraq, but you'll find many remarkably novel images from other places and times, e.g. Chechnya, Georgia, Mexican Special Forces, Indonesian Special Police, French in the Congo, etc.

      Another excellent source is the Chinese Military Forum, I've downloaded hundreds of megs of their photos. They post very high resolution images, mostly of PRC equipment and personnel. The "grim meathook future" becomes a lot more unnerving and real when you combine superb snapshots showing columns of tanks and missiles rolling through the middle of a city, escorted by faceless special forces troops, and posted by someone that clearly seems very proud of this and has a "Nuke Taiwan! Death to Japanese Dogs!" signature. I often wonder how widespread these frightening beliefs are, and which posters are true-believers and which ones are just getting paychecks from the PLA.

      I also recently came across a wonderful photo journal by Rachel Papo recording her time spent following a group of young women recruits in the Israeli army.

      • xah_lee says:

        thanks for the sites.
        Very nice. Spend sometime on them all. especially liked the Rachel Papo site
        just checked that Israel indeed draft girls and is mandatary.

        • kamaraga says:

          Israeli conscription is a bit more complicated, but most Jewish women there serve two years in the military. But unlike many countries where soldiers are hidden away on isolated bases, Israeli soldiers are sent into harm's way once they finish training. These teenage girls are handed live ammunition and sent to patrol dangerous parts of the country, guard checkpoints, keep gatherings from getting out of hand, and protect citizens from harm. That's a lot to ask for, but is considered a kind of rite of passage for becoming a responsible adult there.

          Elsewhere you've criticized feminism's efforts of bringing about equality by emasculating men. In contrast, Israel's universal draft seems to have inadvertently brought some real gender equality by instead strengthening women. I'm not suggesting that every woman get enough training to be able to put down an angry mob with words, bullets or fists. However, having assertive, capable women around seemed to effectively level the playing field by dispelling illusions of gender inferiority and need for entitlement.