Dutch Gamer in US intelligence spotlight

By EDRi · June 7, 2006

A Dutch gamer has become subject of US intelligence and widespread
international media attention because of a self-made video-game movie.
The video consists of footage of the game Battlefield 2 spiced up
with different music and voiceovers. It was presented on 4 May 2006 at a
meeting of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as evidence
of a militant campaign to recruit Muslim youth on the Internet.

Reuters reported on the video that was shown at the meeting and
stated that it was a user-modified version of best-selling game
Battlefield 2, a 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 video starts with the voice of a male narrator saying: “I was
just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters.
The infidels fired at the oil fields and they lit up as the eyes of
Allah”. This is in fact a very easy recognisable copy of a voice-over
from the movie “Team America: World Police”, an American satire by the
makers of South Park. The video footage was not created with a
modified version of Battlefield 2 at all, but with standard game
footage from an add-on module, a retail product widely available in
the United States and elsewhere. The Dutch maker Samir published the
movie in the end of 2005 on a Battlefield 2 forum under the name
“Sonic Jihad”, a reference to a rap-album by rapper Paris. He took
most of the sounds from the movie called “Lion of the Desert”
starring Anthony Quinn.

Devlin spoke before the Committee, at which contractors from Science
Applications International Corp (SAIC) gave lawmakers a presentation
that focused on Iraq as an engine for Islamic militant propaganda.
SAIC has a $7 million Defence Department contract to monitor 1,500
militant websites that provide Al Qaeda and other militant
organisations with a main venue for communications, fund-raising,
recruitment and training.

To present this material, that is completely build up from various
pieces of western media content, as terrorist propaganda seems rather
unconvincing. Various gamers have ridiculed it. Samir has explained
the context of the video in various interviews in which he stated
that the video shouldn’t be taken seriously. The attention by US
intelligence officials is however enough reason for him, a 25-year
old quality manager in a hospital, to cancel his plans to visit New
York out of fear of interrogation at arrival.

US accuses militants of using video games in youth appeal (07.05.2006)

Was Congress misled by “Terrorist” game video? We talk to gamer who created
the footage (11.05.2006)

Hearing on the Terrorist/Jihadist Use of the Internet for Strategic
Communications (04.05.2006)

Transcript of the Committee hearing (04.05.2006)

The video

(Contribution by Joris van Hoboken – EDRI-member Bits of Freedom –