Another Match

 

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Just to prove the point I made about hysterical, only vaguely factual media attacks on SL in my post Flames and Matchboxes, I present the following story from news.com in Australia.

That griefer who caged you last week may not be just another stupid kid, but according to this article could be an Al Qaeda terrorist undergoing advanced training, apparently in acting like a putz.

My favorite parts of this gem of reporting is the author’s horror at the thought that there are armories of weapons available in Second Life, and the assertion that “virtual atomic bombs” can destroy buildings in SL and kill avatars. Thank god the reporter didn’t stop into Caledon during the recent war or we could all be cooling our pixels in Gitmo by now.

By the end of the article, the security people begin making some valid points about the possibility of using SL to train people all over the world using streaming video, but that could be done more efficiently using at least a dozen other programs I can think of off the top of my head…and lag free.

Find the article HERE (trust me, I could not be making this up)

Spies watch rise of virtual terrorists

By Natalie O’Brien

Second Life screen grab / Image supplied
Take your pick … just as the September 11 hijackers practiced on flight simulators, experts are now worried that today’s terrorists are using virtual worlds such as Second Life as their new training camps.

THE bomb hit the ABC’s headquarters, destroying everything except one digital transmission tower. The force of the blast left Aunty’s site a cratered mess.

Just weeks before, a group of terrorists flew a helicopter into the Nissan building, creating an inferno that left two dead. Then a group of armed militants forced their way into an American Apparel clothing store and shot several customers before planting a bomb outside a Reebok store.

This terror campaign, which has been waged during the past six months, has left a trail of dead and injured, and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ damage. The terrorists belong to a militant group bent on overthrowing the government. But they will never be arrested or charged for their crimes because they have committed them away from the reach of the world’s law enforcement agencies, in the virtual world known as Second Life.

Second Life, or SL as it is known to devotees, is an online reality game. It was launched in 2003 by California-based Linden Labs but it did not come to prominence until last year, when corporations including Sony, IBM, Nissan and the ABC bought islands and began marketing to visitors.

In SL people create their own characters, known as avatars, and live an alternative life, buying goods, real estate and living in a community of more than eight million people from across the world. They go about their lives, attending concerts and seminars, building businesses and socialising.

On the darker side, there are also weapons armouries in SL where people can get access to guns, including automatic weapons and AK47s. Searches of the SL website show there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups.

Once these groups take up residence in SL, it is easy to start spreading propaganda, recruiting and instructing like minds on how to start terrorist cells and carry out jihad.

One radical group, called Second Life Liberation Army, has been responsible for some computer-coded atomic bombings of virtual world stores in the past six months.

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 SL 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.

Terrorist organisations al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah traditionally sent potential jihadists to train in military camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. 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-Qaeda, 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,” Gunaratna says. “And unless governments improve their technical capabilities on a par with the terrorists’ access to globalisation tools like the internet and Second Life, they will not be able to monitor what is happening in the terrorist world.”

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.

Zuccato told an Australian Security Industry Association conference in Sydney that people intent on evil no longer had to travel to the target they wanted to attack to carry out reconnaissance. He said they could use virtual worlds to create an exact replica and rehearse an entire attack online, including monitoring the response and ramifications.

“We need to start thinking about living, working and protecting two worlds and two realities,” he says.

Intelligence analyst Roderick Jones, who is investigating the potential use of the games by terrorists, says SL could easily become a terror classroom.

Mr Jones says streaming video can be uploaded into SL and a scenario can easily be constructed whereby an experienced bomb-maker could demonstrate how to assemble bombs using his avatar to answer questions as he plays the video.

The bomb-maker and his students could be spread across the world, using instant language translation tools to communicate.

“Just as real-life companies such as Toyota test their products in SL, so could terrorists construct virtual representations of targets they wish to attack in order to examine the potential target’s vulnerabilities and reaction to attack,” Jones says.

One of the most useful tools available is theability to transfer SL money between avatars, funds that can then be translated into real currency.

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.

Community representatives are relied on to report suspicious or inappropriate behaviour to the owners or the SL authorities, just as in the real world.

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3 Comments

  1. “suspicious or inappropriate behavior”? In SL? Isn’t that rather like looking for a needle in a dressmaking shop?

  2. “terrorists can gain training in games such as World of Warcraft in a simulated environment, using weapons that are identical to real-world environments.”

    So Al Qaeda will be attacking the Pentagon again on Epic Flying Mounts and glowing two-handed swords the size of lampposts?

  3. My god what a load of tosh. I really worry if the comments attributed to Intelligence people are correct.


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