UPDATE: The SITE Intelligence Group has issued a press release which says, categorically, that the article in the Telegraph (upon which this story is based) is wrong. From SITE:
On May 30, 2008, the Telegraph newspaper ran a misleading story... which incorrectly and falsely described analysis provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Discussing a computer-generated image of a destroyed Capitol Building in Washington that was posted to a jihadist forum, the Telegraph claimed, without any basis, "The SITE Intelligence Group said that the image, showing a ruined Capitol Building in Washington, was created by extremists as part of discussions about the feasibility of nuclear strikes against the US and Britain."
This claim is entirely false, as is the characterization that SITE is "embarrassed" or "red-faced." SITE rejects the claims by the Telegraph and stands fully behind the accuracy of its information and analysis. SITE at no time maintained that the image "was created by extremists."
(original story follows:)
A US defense contractor has mistakenly identified a screenshot from the upcoming Fallout 3 role-playing adventure as an al Qaeda-created graphic.
As reported by the Telegraph, the SITE Intelligence Group claimed that the image (seen at left) was created by terrorists as part of an al Qaeda investigation as to the feasibility of launching nuclear attacks against the US and UK.
From the newspaper report:
The images appeared in a video, called Nuclear Jihad: The Ultimate Terror, posted on two password-protected websites... believed to be affiliated with al-Qa’eda. SITE also released translated several chatroom threads... discussing the possibility of nuclear attacks on the West.
However, it has transpired that far from being a detailed simulation created by terrorist masterminds, the apocalyptic vision is in fact lifted from the computer game Fallout 3, by US game designers Bethesda Softworks.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper The Australian was among news outlets which ran the story including SITE's claim that the graphic was an Al Qaeda product.
This isn't the first time that video game graphics have shown up in US intelligence reports on Islamic terrorism. As GamePolitics reported in May, 2006, footage from EA's popular first-person shooter Battlefield 2 and even a voice-over from the film Team America: World Police were presented to the House Select Committe on Intelligence as al Qaeda propaganda.
Commenting on SITE's bungling of the Fallout 3 graphic incident, Alex Jones Infowars takes the mainstream media to task, claiming that it helps spread terrorism fears:
Whatever Al Qaeda is, the American (and Australian) mainstream media is doing their job of spread the threat of terror for them, and making money at the same time utilising dramatic free content supposedly supplied by terrorists.
It doesn’t matter how absolutely crap and ridiculous the supposed Al Qaeda videos are, the mainstream media gives them all front page and lead evening news story exposure, almost seven years after the United States was last attacked.