Jihadis create retro 2-D shooter video game

If you thought 8-bit video games were only fodder for nostalgic Gen X'ers -- think again. A new jihadi game that pits Islamic militants against the French Air Force in Mali is taking Islamic Internet forums by storm.

The primitive game, titled "Muslim Mali," simulates aerial combat against French fighter jets, which have been waging a real-life offensive in Mali since January, and is designed to inspire fellow extremists to take up arms against the French. Once a user clicks "play," an Arabic message appears with the words, "Muslim Brother, go ahead and repel the French invasion against Muslim Mali."

If you're curious, or have a latent desire to destroy French airplanes in 2-D, you can play it yourself here. But first, let's explore some of the features. The home screen displaying the words "Muslim Mali" features a poem encouraging jihad against infidels.

After you click "play," the setting changes to an expansive Malian desert. The first-person player appears in a stealth fighter jet draped in a black al Qaeda flag, while oncoming French forces appear in standard fighter jets that our defense procurement expert John Reed identifies as Su-47 Berkuts.

During my "research," I found the game incredibly easy. The French jets are pathetically slow. What's more, the al Qaeda craft can withstand 10 (!) direct missile hits before exploding. But if you're really bad at the game, no worries: Upon dying, a message appears with the words, "Congratulations, you have been martyred."

Perhaps the best feature is a special black button in the bottom-left corner that reads, "There is no God but God. And Mohammad is his messenger."  If you click it, it sends a pulverizing black laser of death at the enemy. Spooky, huh? 

For a little background, the game first appeared on the Ansar Al-Mujahideen Arabic Forum, according to the jihadi monitoring service the Middle East Media Research Institute, which is currently hosting the game on its servers. The users who created the game, Ta'ir Al-Nawras 07 and Ghareeb Fi Al-Hayat, have been offering to teach others how to create such games. Impressively, the game uses HTML5 and can be played on a laptop or tablet device. It's a brave new world, isn't it?


Does Iran have a legal case against 'Argo'?

On Tuesday, the Iranian press reported that the country is seriously considering a lawsuit against the makers of Argo over the film's unrealistic and negative portrayal of Iranians. According to AP:

Several news outlets, including the pro-reform Shargh daily, said French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre is in Iran for talks with officials over how and where to file the lawsuit. She is also the lawyer for notorious Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal.

This isn't the first time the Iranian government has complained about the film's portrayal of the Iranian people during the 1979 hostage crisis. In February, the government even organized a conference to highlight the anti-Iranian ideology behind Ben Affleck's film and other movies. The lawsuit was discussed on Monday during yet another conference in Tehran for Iranian cultural officials and movie critics entitled "The Hoax of Hollywood."

While the details of how (and if) Iran will go about suing Hollywood have yet to be released, one can't help but wonder: Does Iran actually have a case?

The short answer? Not really. "The threshold for a defamation suit in this context is pretty steep," Cory Andrews, senior litigation counsel for the Washington Legal Foundation, told FP. To prove defamation, you have to not only establish that what is presented as fact is actually false (a difficult task when dealing with a partially fictionalized movie), but also that the plaintiff's reputation was injured, causing financial damages. "I'm not sure how the current Iranian regime would go about proving damages," Andrews notes. "The film is loosely based on events from 1979, not 2013. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is dead, and as a general rule of law you cannot libel the dead." 

Even if Iranian officials choose to pursue a case of group libel -- a controversial legal theory, typically raised in cases of racial hate speech -- they would still have to prove that the regime suffered an injury to reputation and measurable damages as a result of the film. 

As for where Iran could file its lawsuit, Noah Feldman, a professor of international and constitutional law at Harvard, tells FP, "The Iranianans could bring suit in any place where the film is shown, I suppose, and rely on anti-defamation laws." Still, he adds, "it seems highly unlikely to go anywhere in any credible jurisdiction."

Then again, Andrews reminds us, "it's the easiest thing in the world to file a suit." So while Iran might have an exceedingly difficult time proving their case, that won't necessarily stop them from giving the makers of Argo a minor headache in the process. 

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