Fear-mongering hacks at The Daily Mail have been caught mistaking footage from a popular video game series as proof of al-Qaeda's "terrifying vision" for a nuclear attack on Washington.
The paper splashed a gory image showing the utter destruction that would result from the plot by terrorists to carry out a nuclear attack. In the foreground are the charred ruins of the Capitol in a city that is utterly devoid of people, cars or any other sign of life.
"This computer generated image posted on terror forums depict what would happen if a nuclear attack took place in Washington D.C.," the paper reported breathlessly. "So far that is only a dream ... or, as this picture suggests, a nightmare," reporter Barry Wigmore blathered on.
Turns out the image was lifted from Fallout 3, the latest installment of a role-playing game made by Bethesda Software. Marketers describe the game, due in stores a few months, as "America's First Choice in Post Nuclear Simulation". Players are left to roam America's ravaged streets in the year 2277, 200 years after nuclear bombs destroyed the nation's capitol.
A Telegraph report here claims Daily Mail hacks were hoodwinked after the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist websites, posted the image first, along with claims it had been posted to forums where terrorists were discussing the feasibility of nuclear strikes on the US and Britain.
The Daily Mail's blunder was too big for even Fox News, which has been known to conflate fact and fiction on a few occasions, to pass up. But so far, the paper is standing by its fantasy report. The article remained uncorrected more than nine hours after being published. ®