In one of today’s more weird articles, The Australian claims that World of Warcraft and Second Life are used to train terrorists. As an example, they report a “terror campaign” which includes attacks on a Nissan building, a Reebok store and an American Apparel store (all of which are, mind you, within Second Life):
This terror campaign, which has been waged during the past six months, has left a trail of dead and injured, and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ damage. The terrorists belong to a militant group bent on overthrowing the government. But they will never be arrested or charged for their crimes because they have committed them away from the reach of the world’s law enforcement agencies, in the virtual world known as Second Life.
Alleged al-Qa’ida expert and author of the book Inside al-Qa’ida is quoted with this little gem:
“They are rehearsing their operations in Second Life because they don’t have the opportunity to rehearse in the real world,” Gunaratna says. “And unless governments improve their technical capabilities on a par with the terrorists’ access to globalisation tools like the internet and Second Life, they will not be able to monitor what is happening in the terrorist world.”
While I agree with his point that governments need to get up to speed with the internet (and I don’t mean by surveillance, but in terms of skills and basic understanding), Second Life is hardly particularly useful for the training of terrorists. Of course you can conduct classes and courses within Second Life – e-learning and the education sector is pretty active there (check out the Second Life Educators Mailing List for more info). But just what exactly should make Second Life more apt for terrorists than, I don’t know, email I can’t imagine.
Also, if terrorists have the hardware and internet connection to run Second Life, then Second Life is our least problem…