Virtual Bin-Laden Could Issue Fatwas Through World of Warcraft for "Hundreds of Years"

By Gerald Lynch on at

He may be dead, but the threat from Osama Bin-Laden lives on in cyberspace according to British and American intelligence services who believe the Al-Qaeda leader could still spread propaganda using in-game avatars.

The 126-page study called “3D Cyberspace Spillover: Where Virtual Worlds Get Real,” was released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Federation of American Scientists, commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and published online this week. In it, American and British spies infiltrating the communities of games like World of Warcraft and virtual chat worlds like Second Life warn that the titles could be used to “preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come,” through the creation of Osama Bin-Laden avatars.

“Imagine that jihadist supporters create a detailed avatar of Usama bin Ladin and use his many voice recordings to animate the avatar for up-close virtual reality experiences that could be used to preach, convert, recruit, and propagate dogma to the media,” reads the report. [Note the spelling "Usama" is regularly used by intelligence agencies, as opposed to the more recognisable Osama.]

The publication of the report comes just weeks after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that British and American intelligence services considered online games a "target-rich communication network" for terrorists "hiding in plain sight". [Wired]