We posted an item yesterday about Boston joining other cities, corporations and universities that have created, or plan to create, a virtual replica of their community in Second Life, the animated online world where individuals create avatars and interact with other virtual personalities. The idea for cities is to encourage civic participation; for businesses, to market services and products.
But that's not the only purpose the sites are serving. The virtual communities are now becoming training grounds and recruiting centers for terrorists, according to an article posted by The Australian. An excerpt:
Just as September 11 terrorists practised flying planes on simulators in preparation for their deadly assault on US buildings, law enforcement agencies believe some of those behind the Second Life attacks are home-grown Australian jihadists who are rehearsing for strikes against real targets. ...
Roderick Jones, who is investigating the potential use of the games by terrorists, says SL could easily become a terror classroom. ... Jones says streaming video can be uploaded into SL and a scenario can easily be constructed whereby an experienced bomb-maker could demonstrate how to assemble bombs using his avatar to answer questions as he plays the video.
Terrorist groups have attacked the virtual Second Life headquarters of ABC and Nissan and a Reebok store, leaving explosions that "look like hazy white balls," according to the article. "One radical group, called Second Life Liberation Army, has been responsible for some computer-coded atomic bombings of virtual world stores in the past six months," according to the article.