Telegraph story claiming SITE was “red-faced” after Fallout 3 al-Qaeda gaff vanishes following “legal wrangling”

By Patrick Garratt, Saturday, 31 May 2008 10:45 GMT

British newspaper the Daily Telegraph has seemingly removed a story from its website claiming extremist monitoring agency SITE was left “red-faced” after it circulated a piece of Fallout 3 art as al-Qaeda propaganda.

The original story URL now brings up a 404 error. has been told by Telegraph editorial staff this morning that “lots of legal wrangling” took place overnight after SITE issued a statement claiming the story was “entirely false.”

The staffer we spoke to, however, refused to confirm the story had been removed from the Telegraph’s site, saying, “I haven’t seen it this morning, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still live somewhere. I’ll have to confirm that for you.”

No such confirmation has been received at the time of writing.

In its entirety, SITE’s statement reads:

On May 30, 2008, the Telegraph newspaper ran a misleading story, “SITE red-faced as Islamist ‘Washington ruin’ image turns out to be from Fallout 3 game,” which incorrectly and falsely described analysis provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Discussing a computer-generated image of a destroyed Capitol Building in Washington that was posted to a jihadist forum, the Telegraph claimed, without any basis, “The SITE Intelligence Group said that the image, showing a ruined Capitol Building in Washington, was created by extremists as part of discussions about the feasibility of nuclear strikes against the US and Britain.”

This claim is entirely false, as is the characterization that SITE is “embarrassed” or “red-faced.”

SITE rejects the claims by the Telegraph and stands fully behind the accuracy of its information and analysis. SITE at no time maintained that the image “was created by extremists.”

SITE reported to its subscribers that extremists posted the image to a password-protected forum affiliated with al-Qaeda. This is entirely accurate. Moreover, this information was part of a report describing the general atmosphere in this forum with regard to extremists’ discussions on weapons of mass destruction, making its context all the more important. This report in its entirety is also completely accurate.

The Telegraph is not a subscriber to SITE’s services. Apparently, the newspaper made these erroneous claims without actually reading SITE’s original report, and the basis of their information for their incorrect article is unknown to us.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a leading provider of intelligence and analysis to governments, organizations, and institutions across the world, has contacted the Telegraph to correct their factually inaccurate and misleading article.

The SITE information was picked up by both the British Daily Mail and the Australian yesterday, the Mail claiming the image depicted “Al-Qaeda’s terrifying vision of a devastated America in the wake of a nuclear attack”.

Thanks to Kotaku for the SITE statement.

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