TERRORISTS are using online war games like Call of Duty to plot attacks
, The Sun can reveal.
Islamic extremists know cops monitor phone calls, emails and online messages.
So they are turning to PlayStation and Xbox games to keep their deadly plans secret.
Gamers can log on in groups to play against each other and — crucially — to chat in private.
Once signed in to a "lobby" using a password, plotters put on Bluetooth headsets and speak securely to conspirators on the same site.
Other shoot-'em-up games suspected of being targeted by terrorists are thought to be Medal of Honour and the Halo series.
Alamy Last night, a source said: "It's a terrifying reality. These people waste no time finding a secure method of chatting. "They are logging into group games over the internet and discussing terror plots." Security people know about it.
"For millions who love these games this will be a huge shock."
"To think fanatics use them for their own ends is a real worry." Sources say plotters choose realistic conflict games so they can mask their deadly discussions as harmless web chat.
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There has even been evidence would-be jihadists treat war games as training tools, a bit like a pilot might use a flight simulator.
News of the growing threat comes five years after the CIA first warned of the menace.
But with the soaring popularity of the games, there are now fears they are being used by increasing numbers of criminals and terrorists.
Last night government sources said police and spy chiefs were already responding to the threat.
A security expert revealed: "Those who fight crime and terrorism keep up to date with technological changes."
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The terrorists choose incredibly realistic "first person games" where the controller works through a complex simulation of war scenarios, carrying out missions and battling enemy fighters.
Gamers choose different styles of play and missions — from planting bombs to fighting one-on-one. Then they enter the lobby and invite their friends to join in.
Call of Duty addicts can even join "clans" — groups who regularly play together
The games use a password-protected log-on
to keep users' identities secret. The system was designed so players anywhere on the globe
can get together for harmless fantasy battles.
But security chiefs now fear plotters are set to turn those fantasies into reality.