Earlier this month, the FBI launched Don’t Be A Puppet, a browser-based video game designed to counter recruitment propaganda from violent extremists. However, after complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Bureau has removed and replaced references to Islam and Islamic terrorism on the site.
The FBI originally intended to launch the site in November, but progress was stalled by CAIR’s complaints. At the time, the Islamic lobby complained that the website, which is targeted at young people at risk of extremist recruitment, would lead to the “stigamitzation” and “bullying” of young Muslims. CAIR also contended that the website should instead focus on right-wing extremists, which they argued were a greater threat to American youth.
It seems that the FBI have caved to CAIR’s complaints. The IJ Review reports that a number of changes have been made to the game, including the replacement of an Arabic-speaking terrorist recruiting young people for an “overseas mission” with a Chinese-American animal rights activist recruiting people for an attack on an animal testing lab.
The game still includes a scenario where players are invited to go on an “overseas mission” — but the character’s Arabic name has been replaced with a western-sounding one (Sean S).
The FBI also appears to have heeded CAIR’s advice to focus on right-wing extremists, with a new example featuring a “white supremacist rally” where players are told to commit violent acts in the name of white supremacy. According to the IJ Review, “the new version of the game does not mention Islam, Muslims, or any particulars of Islamist ideology or targets at all, aside from the usual disclaimers that ISIS does not represent mainstream Islam.”
While the FBI avoids mentioning the terrorist group at CAIR’s behest, the Islamic State remains among the largest terrorist hubs in the world, with recent estimates from the US intelligence community putting its number of foreign recruits at approximately 30,000.
Still, you never know, the FBI may be right to shift focus. Maybe animal rights activists are planning to set up their own terrorist state too?