Two alleged young terrorists arrested over the past two weeks were described as "gamers" in various news reports, though that portrayal seems to be more of an attempt to paint them as “normal” rather than an effort to cast dispersion on gamers.
In a New York Post story on the arrest of 21-year old Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, the Staten Islander, who was busted in Hawaii by U.S. marshals for making false statements, was described by a former landlord as a typical “all-American kid” who liked sports and was a “video-game fan.”
Shehadeh had been on the radar of authorities since attempting to get to Pakistan on a one-way ticket in 2008. It was reported that Shehadeh was hoping to make his way to Dubai from Hawaii, and then get to Somalia. He was thwarted due to his name being placed on the no-fly list.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal details the story of 14-year old Mohammad Salaam (pictured), who was arrested in Pakistan with two other alleged members of the Pakistan Taliban. The trio was purportedly preparing a suicide attack against the Pakistani state. A search of the house the three were arrested in turned up a suicide jacket, packed with 48 pounds of explosives, buried in the garden.
It was reported that the boy’s favorite pastime, “until a few months ago,” was playing Counter-Strike, described for the unknowing as “a videogame in which terrorists take on law-enforcement agencies.”
Salaam, who has yet to be officially charged, is expected to be released due to his age.
In any case, it’s a bit refreshing that these two reports did not paint videogames as a factor in the young men turning towards terrorism, or label games “murder simulators.” Perhaps the bar has just been set very low when it comes to how mainstream media treats videogames.
Pic from the WSJ/Tom Wright