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Documentary mistakes video game for real terrorism

This footage from the game
This footage from the gameBohemai Interactive

A newly aired British documentary claims to have found terrorism footage linking Libya's Colonel Moammar Gadhafi and the IRA — but that footage, it turns out, is actually from a video game.

The documentary — called "Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA" — aired on Britain's ITV channel Monday in the UK.

The documentary, which claims Gadhafi gave the IRA enough weapons to turn a militia into an army, shows footage allegedly captured by the IRA in 1988 in which IRA militants use Gadhafi-supplied heavy machine guns to shoot down a helicopter.

But some game-playing viewers had seen that footage before — in the combat PC game "ArmA 2," published by Bohemia Interactive. And they began posting messages in the Bohemia Interactive community forums calling out the faux footage.

For the time being, the documentary still appears to be available on ITV's website here (though you must be located in the UK to view it). Meanwhile, here's a clip from the documentary showing the faux video faux pas:

It appears the wayward footage got its start with this fan-made YouTube video — which does seem to claim to be the real thing. Meanwhile, some in the Bohemia forums have suggested that, perhaps, the documentarians accidentally confused that video game footage for this footage of the IRA shooting down a helicopter as they put the documentary together.

Bohemia Interactive — based in the Czech Republic — is certainly known for its realistic combat games. In fact, it's been a very busy week for the game developers. The Greek Island of Limnos has been protesting its appearance in the forthcoming "ArmA 3" game — which shows the island in realistic detail. For more on that, follow this link.

But Bohemia Interactive is as surprised as anyone to find that their "ArmA 2" game footage was used in the ITV documentary.

Bohemia CEO Marek Spanel told Gamasutra that ITV did not contact the company with a request to use the footage.

"We were not aware of this video," he said. "We have no idea how this footage made it to the documentary. Our games are very open and allow users to freely do a lot of things. I see this is somehow a bizarre use of creative freedom."

UPDATE: An ITV spokesman has told The Telegraph that they did have real footage of a British army helicopter being shot down in 1988 but used the videogame material by mistake.

"The events featured in Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA were genuine but it would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers," he said. "This was an unfortunate case of human error for which we apologise.”

(Thanks to PC Gamer for the heads up.)

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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+. And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.