New Call of Duty game includes mission to 'assassinate Qassem Soleimani'
The latest Call of Duty video game includes a mission very similar to the real-life assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, according to gamers with early access to the new installment of the franchise.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, set to be released on 28 October, involves a ‘missile strike mission’ targeting an Iranian military leader named ‘Ghorbrani’ within the first five minutes, footage shared on Twitter shows.
Soleimani was killed by a missile strike on Baghdad's international airport ordered by former United States President Donald Trump in January 2020, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi Iraqi militia grouping.
Walking through a dusty, vaguely Middle Eastern-looking landscape in the fictional region of Al Mazrah in the United Republic of Adal, Ghorbrani is depicted as being engaged in an arms deal with Russians who are “very happy to see him”, as narrated by a character.
Previews of the scene have garnered critical responses from fans of the game. Some online users posted side-by-side images comparing the likeness of Soleimani and Ghorbrani.
Ghorbrani’s name also bears striking resemblance to Iran’s Commander of Army Aviation General Yousef Ghorbani.
Call of Duty developer Activision has not responded to Middle East Eye's request for comment at the time of publication.
Information on the character remains limited. However, a character profile on General Ghorbrani can be found on the CoD Fandom Wiki, filed under the category ‘Antagonists’.
Some players felt uncomfortable with the mission considering the current geopolitical climate.
“I also felt grim controlling a ballistic missile on its way to obliterating an Iranian general during a Russian arms deal, given everything happening in the world right now,” said Wes, who spoke about playing the game to Euro Gamer, likely referring to the Russia-Ukraine war and recent protests in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
“To be clear, I'm not disgusted, just uncomfortable. I don't think the game needed that bit.”
One user said the “Ghorbrani” scenario was the latest in a number of examples of Call of Duty playing into “American propaganda”.
This is not the first time the popular franchise has come under fire for its portrayal of the Middle East and the Islamic faith.
In November last year, Call of Duty: Vanguard's Zombies depicted torn pages of the Quran scattered across the ground and splattered with blood, causing uproar among many Muslims, to whom the holy book is sacred.
Following accusations of publishing Islamophobic content, Call of Duty Middle East apologised for the offence caused and confirmed that the scenes from the game had been removed. Many fans rejected the statement as “insufficient'' and subsequently boycotted the game.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.