SITE red-faced as Islamist ‘Washington ruin’ image turns out to be from Fallout 3 game
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.
The images appeared in a video, called Nuclear Jihad: The Ultimate Terror, posted on two password-protected websites, al-Ekhlass and al-Hesbah, believed to be affiliated with al-Qa’eda.
SITE also released translated several chatroom threads from al-Ekhlass and al-Hesbah, 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 game bills itself as “America’s first choice in post-nuclear simulation”, with players roaming a ruined landscape some time after a nuclear war in 2077.
Edit: Telegraph took down the story after this reply from SITE:
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.”
SITE reported to its subscribers that extremists posted the image to a password-protected forum affiliated with al-Qaeda. This is entirely accurate. Moreover, this information was part of a report describing the general atmosphere in this forum with regard to extremists’ discussions on weapons of mass destruction, making its context all the more important. This report in its entirety is also completely accurate.
The Telegraph is not a subscriber to SITE’s services. Apparently, the newspaper made these erroneous claims without actually reading SITE’s original report, and the basis of their information for their incorrect article is unknown to us.