Link to Videogames for Homegrown Accused Terrorists

A report on NPR this morning about the two young New Jersey men arrested at New York’s JFK airport as they attempted to travel to Somalia, with the alleged intent of joining a terrorist organization, piqued our interest because of the mention of videogames.

24-year old Carlos Eduardo Almonte and 20-year old Mohamed Mahmood Alessa were arrested and charged with trying to join the terrorist group al-Shabab. The pair apparently had no ties to the group and were traveling to Somalia, by way of Egypt, with the hopes that al-Shabab would welcome them into their organization.

A New York Daily News story on the two men reported that “they often went to mall stores and played first-person-shooter computer games – assuming the terrorist role.”

A similar AP story, running on CBS News, discussed the “unsophisticated” ways in which Almonte and Alessa trained, stating, “They lifted weights, bought military-style pants, tried paintball, played violent video games and watched terrorist videos online.”

No doubt, a very high percentage of you reading this article have assumed the role of terrorists in a videogame. Does this mean we are all terrorists in training? Of course not. Obviously these two men were marching down a certain path and videogames were just one small part of the equation. Maybe they were simply playing videogames for recreation, the same as the majority of the U.S. population does, and in a bit of revisionist history, once their plans were known, it was easy to link games with terrorist training.

As an aside, was quick to offer a bizarre reactionary piece, not about videogames thankfully, but on the subject of paintball and its ability to be used as “a training exercise for violent jihad.”

Picture via the NY Daily News

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  1. 0
    mdo7 says:

    You’re correct, Paintball can actually be used to practice a lot of thing in warfare and possibly terroristm.  I don’t even understand why are they pointing at video game when paintball.  I can practice breach and clear using paintball simulation.  If I wanted to practice taking down special forces or anyone with a gun, paintball gun plus live-round firearm practice would be a good way for that.



  2. 0
    mdo7 says:

    Yep, I bet playing video game will make you a terrorist like:

    Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2: Because playing as a undercover CIA and take part in a Airport massacre will suprisingly make you a terrorist.

    Counter-Strike: Because you can play as a terrorist and kill special Ops.

    MAG: Because you are train to blow up everything and shoot anyone in your way.


  3. 0
    Kojiro says:

    AND paintball actually could be used to simulate engagements with authorities and practice strategies.  But nobody rags on it because it’s like playing Cowboys and Indians.  Parents can relate to that.

  4. 0
    Zerodash says:

    Actually, I’m suprised paintball hasn’t created any moral panics in the way videogames had.  It is a hell of alot closer to shooting real people with real guns than any game ever has. 


  5. 0
    Father Time says:

    "watched terrorist videos online"

    I’m pretty freaking sure this influenced them more than any video game. If the press won’t entertain that notion they’re idiots.

    In fact I think it’s despicable to lay the blame onto video games especially when some of our soldiers fighting terrorism enjoy video games.

    I’ll bet you anything I can find some U.S. soldiers who have played as terrorists in counterstrike or have gone on a rampage in GTA.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

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