Virtual Terror: ISIS Targeting Gamers in Bahrain


BAHRAIN -- Gamers in Bahrain and across the region are being targeted by recruiters of terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS), according to experts.

The group, also known as Daesh, is moving from battlefields to video game chat rooms in an attempt to brainwash young men.

It is customising video game content to incorporate IS militias as combatants fighting Iraqi soldiers, according to Gulf State Analytics chief executive Giorgio Cafiero.

"There is no real evidence confirming that Daesh has recruited any Bahraini citizens to the Syrian or Iraqi battlefields through video games," Mr Cafiero told the GDN.

"But the group has turned to its sophisticated arsenal of digital propaganda tools to target Bahraini recruits."

He also referred to a video game released by the militia group in 2014 which mocked popular game Grand Theft Auto (GTA).

"The group's media wing stated that the mock-up GTA video, which included Daesh fighters killing US troops, will 'raise the morale of the mujahedin and to train children and youth how to battle the West and to strike terror into the hearts of those who oppose the IS'," he added.

The GDN found that other video games, such as military simulator ARMA 3, could be modified so players could place IS militias in the game as enemy combatants.

Another one, Apache: Air Assault made by Russian video game studio Gaijin Entertainment, also features Russian troops attacking IS targets in Syria.

"Daesh's high-tech jihad factors into the group's agenda of expanding its targets for recruitment to a broader segment of the online community," explained Mr Cafiero.

"Daesh's use of digital games must be understood within the context of Daesh's enemies also utilising the virtual world to galvanise support while delivering political messages."

Earlier this year, Emirate daily newspaper Al Ittihad reported that several children were contacted through popular smartphone game Clash of Clans and asked if they were Muslims.

They were reportedly encouraged to kill non-Muslims, and even their parents, if they wanted to go to heaven.

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This article was written by Ghazi Alshehabi from Gulf Daily News, Manama, Bahrain and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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