A Lebanese man plays a computer game created by Hezbollah called "Holy Defence".
(photo credit: JOSEPH EID / AFP)
“Holy Defense” is not your average computer game.
Instead of defending the US from invasion or some other democratic cause, the heroic character in this game is a Hezbollah fighter defending Shi’ites from Islamic State.
In an age when terrorist groups are getting more and more tech savvy, Hezbollah has developed a 3-D computer game to capture the minds of its youth, while showing them a good time.
According to a report by IDC Herzliya’s International Institute for Counterterrorism’s Jihad Monitoring Group, which was obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post
, the game was launched on February 9.
It is designed for children and teenagers to stand in as a Hezbollah fighter and relive real-life battles that occurred in Syria and Lebanon against ISIS.
Like any solid computer game, it consists of multiple levels, which include a diverse range of tasks that players must perform.
Instead of Super Mario rescuing Princess Toadstool from the monstrous Bowser and his evil army of Koopa Troopas, players must defend the grave of Zaynab, a Shi’ite holy site in Damascus, against ISIS. They need to purge areas of ISIS fighters in order to stop the firing of rockets.
Another level requires assassinating a senior ISIS commander responsible for the transfer of suicide bombers to Lebanon.
Instead of stopping Mortal Kombat X’s villains Shinnok and Quan Chi and their army of undead revenants, the climactic level, “The Battle for the Homeland,” is about defending Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon, said the report, authored by Dr. Michael Barak.
A fascinating spin that corresponds less to the real-life narrative is an assignment focused on freeing kidnapped civilians held by ISIS.
In reality, most of Hezbollah’s combat against ISIS had nothing to do with saving kidnapped civilians, but, rather, took place in Syria and was carried out to prop up the Assad regime.
The Assad regime started to lose control of areas in 2011, after it started to barrel-bomb and otherwise attack its own Sunni civilian population.
Hezbollah has not intervened to protect Syrian noncombatants from the Assad regime.
All of this is part of the only slightly veiled true brainwashing focus of the game.
IN ITS INTRODUCTION, “Holy Defense” states: “The game is not merely a game but, rather, a story that seeks to document one of the sacred stages of defense against the expansion of takfiri elements [referring to Islamic State supporters as apostates from Islam] and against the American-Zionist plan. It is intended to document the many victims who fell in battle.”
“Computer games,” the report said, “are an inseparable part of Hezbollah’s propaganda campaign, as well as of... Hamas and Islamic State.”
Hezbollah seeks “to convey a message to the youth about the threats facing their community and the enemies against whom they must fight... to foster their identification with the organization’s goals” and to present “the organization as a defender of the community.”
Kids’ enjoyment of the game amplifies the messages and engenders a sense of belonging.
One of the insidious goals of the game is to lay the groundwork for recruiting the younger generation.
Hezbollah hopes to convince young Shi’ites in Lebanon and elsewhere that it is “the spearhead in defending the Shi’ite community in Lebanon and holy Shia sites in Syria.”
According to Hezbollah, the West is “constantly working to blur the cultural and religious identity of Muslim youth... such as through encrypted chat programs, social networks and games that seek to ‘destroy our values and cause us to ignore our main problems.’” This game is its response to those concerns.
According to Lebanese researcher Badia Salman, the game “also serves as a tool to justify Hezbollah’s activity in Syria after receiving a wave of criticism, both in the Shi’ite community in Lebanon and abroad, for its involvement in the Syrian civil war.”
Hezbollah previously published computerized war games about fighting the IDF after Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and after the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
To market the new game, Hezbollah posted video clips on the subject and uploaded them to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and even published a dedicated website for the game.
Hezbollah’s gaming fans can install the game on computers and mobile phones or buy it on a $5 disc through two Hezbollah distribution centers.