May 14, 2018

Teenager Radicalized Through Video Games

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Shady was a fourteen year old male from Kahawa west a bright, quiet and reserved boy who loved playing video games. He often found consolation when playing online games, but an experience with online gaming changed him within a year.

Every day after school, Shady used to go to the cyber cafe that was near his home in the heart of Kahawa west. Shady was also learning French and Arabic in school so he used to ask his parents for money to go and do research on the internet.

He was really good in the two languages and that reflected in the grades he got in school, so his parents never suspected that he would spend hours in the cyber playing games.
With time he became good in the games so he started playing games that were rated PG 18 because they involved the use of guns and most had graphic content that appealed to boys his age, the unique feature of these games was they had chat rooms where players got to communicate with each other.

One time as Shady was playing a game called Salil al-Sawarem (The Clanging of the Swords) he got a chance to play with an opponent who was Arabian and created a friendship, which was enhanced especially when they used Arabic to communicate. Shady was excited that he could get a chance to practice the language with his new friend. His friend’s name was Mahmud Abbasand he was from Syria. Shady’s curiosity increased and his interest in Abbas’ culture grew, he wanted to learn more about his culture and country so they exchanged contacts.

Abbas asked Shady only to text him on Telegram since it was the only social media platform allowed in their country. The friendship grew for a year, then Shady’s behaviour started changing, he started becoming violent in school. One day got into a confrontation with one of the students and stabbed him with a fork.

This started raising concerns to both his parents and teachers and they even took him to a counsellor but they still did not understand why his behaviour had changed drastically.
One evening his parents received a call from the police who told them that their son had been caught with three other teenage boys trying to cross the border to Somalia to join Al shabaab.

During interrogation, Shady confessed of how he was given directions of how to get to Somalia where he would fight using real guns and would even be known as a hero, instead of playing video games using fake guns.

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