The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known for the name ISIS, has a hip, new recruitment tool that aims to attract teenagers and children to join its cause - a mocked up Grand Theft Auto 5 trailer that aims to lure gamers to take their violent gameplay into the real-life battlefield.
The terror group has inspired widespread fear and loathing through social media for its publication of videos of beheadings and other abominable acts of violence. The latest video speaks of a whole new level of deviance altogether and begins with text loosely translated as: "The things you do in games, we do in real life on the battlefield." It then proceeds to show an image of a man with a covered face carrying a weapon and an explosion taking place in the background. Next to the man is the terror group's black flag brandishing the ISIS logo and the words "Grand Theft Auto" below the flag.
Throughout the three minutes and 39 seconds of the video, various clips taken from GTA 5 are shown, such as a man hiding in the bushes shooting with a sniper, fighters shouting "Allahu Akbar" as they attack a military convoy, and a man pulling out a police officer from his car and shooting him to death. In between these clips, the video shows an image of the ISIS logo incorporated with the GTA styling. At the end of the video, the words "Flames of War" appear, followed by a tagline that says: "Fighting has just begun."
It is unclear if ISIS has developed a modified version of GTA 5 as a tool to train combatants or if it is simply using the game to entice young gamers to upgrade their brand of violence from video games to real life. El Fagr, a Cairo-based independent publication says ISIS intended the video to "raise the morale of the Mujahideen, and the training of children and young teenagers to fight the West, and throw terror into the hearts of opponents of the state."
Shahid Butt, a man from Birmingham convicted of terrorism in 1999, said in an interview with Sky News that violent games such as GTA 5 are to be blamed for "dehumanizing" young gamers and helps terror groups recruit young people disillusioned by the state of affairs using a language young people understand.
"You've got and eight or nine-year-old child playing those kind of violent games with heads blowing off and limbs blowing off," says [video] Butt. "What kind of mentality is that kid going to have? You dehumanized that person. To go and fight in Syria is as easy as going on holiday in Disneyland. Because you've made it easy!"
Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the most popular titles released by game developer Rockstar and has sold more than $2 billion worth of copies since it was released. The game, which is all set for a next-generation update for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners, is notorious for its violence, with gamers having to do things such as steal cars, go excessively beyond speed limits to run away from the police and gain extra points for knocking over bystanders. To date, no instances have been recorded of GTA inspiring gamers to commit violence in the real world.