A man who was plotting to bomb George W. Bush's house liked watching videos of games, which means news outlets are blaming them for his behavior.
A Saudi national was recently arrested for plotting to blow up a number of targets in America, including former President George W. Bush's home in Texas. The man, twenty-year-old Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, plead not guilty to the charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction when he was arraigned last week. While trying to blow up buildings may not be a common pastime for young adults, videogames are, and Aldawsari has been identified as a gamer. Naturally, certain media groups are starting to blame games for his plot.
According to The Daily Mail, Aldawsari maintained a blog where he wrote about how much he liked the Resident Evil games. In one post, he wrote the following statement:
Finished watching the Resident Evil Remake game on youtube today and I am glad to watch it because I like the Resident Evil games and this is not my first time to watch the gameplay on youtube; in addition to Resident Evil Remake, I watched Resident Evil 3, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, and I am now watching Resident Evil Code Veronica.
It should be noted that this doesn't actually reveal that Aldawsari enjoyed playing videogames, just that he enjoyed watching YouTube videos of them. However, that hasn't stopped the press from eating it up. The Daily Mail ran a headline that reads "Evil resident was hooked on Resident Evil: Saudi terror suspect loved ultra-violent video game". The New York Post, in turn ran a similar headline: "Alleged Saudi bomb plotter pleads not guilty, inspired by violent video game".
Aldawsari, who was a business student at South Plains College near Lubbock, TX, was arrested last week after he attempted to purchase a large amount of phenol from a company in North Carolina, which flagged his order as suspicious and alerted authorities. After law enforcement groups started surveillance on him, he emailed himself a list of targets that included nuclear power plants, a number of dams, and the Dallas home of former President Bush (which he identified as "Tyrant's House").
Aldawsari's believed he was waging a one man "jihad", according to articles that cite the young man's journal entries. Apparently he was planning to use a series of chemical-based improvised explosive devices that he would hide in dolls and backpacks to carry out the attacks. The Richland Chronicle also quotes a journal entry where the young man explains how he planned to use his scholarship money to fund his attacks.
Speaking as someone who was directly affected by the 9/11 attacks, I'm extremely relieved that this guy was stopped before he could hurt anyone. However, I think claiming videogames inspired him is some incredibly irresponsible journalism, especially since there's no direct evidence showing that he actually played them.
I'm starting a betting pool on how long it'll take Fox News to start claiming the Resident Evil games teach people how to make bombs. Any takers?