Monday, July 30, 2007

JIHADISTS TRAIN FOR TERROR IN FANTASY WORLD COMPUTER GAMES, CLAIM QUACKS: News organ furnishes somewhat novel intelligence-insulting excrement

"One radical group, called Second Life Liberation Army, has been responsible for some computer-coded atomic bombings of virtual world stores [in the on-line fantasy game called Second Life] in the past six months," wrote a reporter for the Australian, today.

"On screen these blasts look like an explosion of hazy white balls as buildings explode, landscapes are razed and residents are wounded or killed.

"With the game taking such a sinister turn, terrorism experts are warning that [Second Life] attacks have ramifications for the real world. Just as September 11 terrorists practised flying planes on simulators in preparation for their deadly assault on US buildings, law enforcement agencies believe some of those behind the Second Life attacks are home-grown Australian jihadists who are rehearsing for strikes against real targets..."

Entitled "Virtual Terrorists," alert reader Cubic Archon tipped your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow to this bit of titillating terror infotainment dressed up as real news.

Of course, it is not good scary terror infotainment unless experts are on hand to inform you that it has been a subject of quiet concern for some time. But now the danger has become too great, the threat impending, and they must speak!

"Terrorist organisations al-Qa'ida and Jemaah Islamiah traditionally sent potential jihadists to train in military camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia," continues the Australian. "But due to increased surveillance and intelligence-gathering, they are swapping some military training to online camps to evade detection and avoid prosecution."

"Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside al-Qa'ida, says it is a new phenomena that, until now, has not been openly discussed outside the intelligence community.

"But he says security agencies are extremely concerned about what home-grown terrorists are up to in cyberspace. He believes the dismantling and disruption of military training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan after September 11 forced terrorists to turn to the virtual world."

" 'They are rehearsing their operations in Second Life because they don't have the opportunity to rehearse in the real world.'"

"Intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the US and Australia are so concerned they have established their own reality world games in a bid to gain the same experiences as the virtual terrorists.

"Monash University academic and former Office of National Assessments intelligence officer David Wright-Neville agrees that online games and virtual worlds are being used by potential terrorists to hone their knowledge base ... Intelligence analyst Roderick Jones, who is investigating the potential use of the games by terrorists, says [Second Life] could easily become a terror classroom."

Are you ready to your local anti-terror forces stamp out the on-line game? Or are your eyes rolling over yet another ad hoc squad of experts ready to say anything to a news organization in the process of concocting another exciting fraud from the terror wars?

"Basically, we have a succession of inaccuracies about Second Life in the first place (e.g. you can't leave 'a trail of dead and injured' there, even virtually, given that there's no permanent death or injury built in; the 'Second Life Liberation Army' was a media publicity stunt," writes Cubic Archon in e-mail.

He added that the news piece offers "ridiculous sourceless commentary."

Archon finds the next claim laughable.

"Kevin Zuccato, head of the Australian High Tech Crime Centre in Canberra, says terrorists can gain training in games such as World of Warcraft in a simulated environment, using weapons that are identical to real-world armaments."

"World of Warcraft is a fantasy game," the e-mailer points out. "So, in the real world, terrorists are going to be attacking with magic swords and fireball spells?"

Since Archon makes good points about the meretriciousness of claims that terrorists can use Second Life as a way to plan attacks, DD turns the real estate over to him:
I am a fairly long-term user of Second Life and, while it has some great potential for certain types of teaching and real-world modelling - it's used increasingly by architects, for instance - this is about as credible a threat as the one about school shooters building models of their school in Counterstrike and using them to rehearse attacks. Bouncing about in an online simulation isn't combat training.

And the idea that it is being used by al Qaeda to recruit, any more than, say, Myspace, is sourceless nonsense. There are all sorts of "comedy" names and groups in Second Life, and it would surprise me immensely if people hadn't started up "al Qaeda" type groups, perhaps with virtual explosive belts, to satirise the media obsession with them. To be honest, this sort of article almost makes me want to do that myself - or maybe build a replica of Pearl Harbour and start bombing it from virtual aeroplanes.

You know, it would be terrific if Second Life was really as good and realistic as it is portrayed here, that you could actually learn how to do something as complex as build explosives or field-strip a rifle from the comfort of your own bedroom, but unfortunately it isn't.

Supplying related URL's, Archon writes: "Another past example came from here. [This] was quite roundly panned by Second Life users in comments and on various blogs."

Other common quack terror memes found in story revolve around the evergreen claim that al Qaeda's cyberforces are beating the pants off us on the Internet. It's an amusing conceit if you've followed the analysis of documents from the trials of of Younes Tsouli, Dhiren Barot and others on this blog.

Here are some more flavors of it: OH! MY! GOD! Terrorists are using the Internets! It is easy for terrorists to download a recipe for ricin and betaluminium poisons from the Internets! It took this reporter five minutes to find the plans for a terrorist's bomb on the Internets! A European legislator wants to make it unlawful for any website to have plans for bombs on the Internets! You can easily download plans for an atomic bomb from the Internets!"

[Few] governments understand the importance of the internet to terrorism," claims someone, probingly, for the Australian.

"US terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman, from think tank RAND Corporation, says ... 'We have to contest this virtual battle space in much the same manner as we are very successfully doing in other traditional forms.'"


Blogger Enrico SuarvĂ© said...

So if I see a badly rendered, half-human object flying through the air clutching a burning orb of zob, I'll know to run as it's a virtually trained Jihadi

Cheers for the heads up DD

(and the for the laugh on an otherwise tedious day)

PS do they still shout Allahu Akbar, or have they switched to ROTFL AA !n5ha!!ah ?

3:12 AM  
Anonymous Emmanuel Deloget said...

I'm betting for "4114hU H4xb4zOrz."

I read a similar article some months ago - while it might make sense to use the net for all sort of virtual meeting, why the hell a jihadist group would use a satanic tool to handle them?

It nearly makes sense. Still, a lot less than "cigarettes are good for health" or "there are WMDs in Iraq".

7:48 AM  

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