The online gaming platform Steam has banned a video game in which players perform terrorist attacks on Israeli soldiers following a Washington Free Beacon report that outlined how the title could run afoul of U.S. anti-terrorism laws.
Steam was set to release in December a game called Fursan Al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Players take on the role of a Palestinian militant who wages war "across Palestine" and murders any Israeli standing in his way. The principal character, "Ahmad al-Falastini," is "a young Palestinian student who was unjustly tortured and jailed by Israeli soldiers for five years, had all his family killed by an Israeli airstrike and now, after getting out from the prison, seeks revenge against those who wronged him, killed his family, and stole his homeland, by joining a new Palestinian resistance movement," stated the now-deactivated listing for the game that was published on Steam's website.
The title generated criticism from an Israeli legal-advocacy group, the International Legal Forum, which informed Steam's parent company Valve that the sale of the game could violate U.S. anti-terrorism laws. Valve did not comment on the removal of the game.
While video-game publishers generally have a wide leeway in the titles they produce, including games that simulate various war fighting situations, Fursan Al-Aqsa was seen as a potential recruitment tool for Palestinian terror groups.
"This game, with its unhinged glorification of violence and incitement to terror, may place Valve in direct violation of United States anti-terror laws and subject to potential civil litigation," the International Legal Forum told Valve in a letter sent this month. "In allowing the use of your platform for the glorification and incitement of terror, your company may be in breach of a number of U.S. anti-terrorism laws, including, but not limited to, Section 2339 of the United States Code, which prohibits the providing of ‘material support or resources' in the ‘preparation for, or in carrying out' a violation of certain offenses, including terrorism."
Arsen Ostrovsky, the International Legal Forum's chairman and CEO, praised Steam for its decision to remove the game.
"We applaud Steam for removing this grotesque game from their platform, following our clear communication to their parent company, Valve Corporation, that by allowing their platform to be used to incite, enable and encourage terror and violence, including for the purposes of recruitment and communication, may be in breach of U.S. anti-terror laws," Ostrovsky said. "There can be zero tolerance for ‘games' masquerading as vehicles for promoting terror."