Parent groups and worried politicians have been warning us for years that video games were making kids violent, but I don’t think they meant it quite this literally. An Austrian teenager is on his way to jail after downloading something terrible on his Playstation. No, it wasn’t the first season of Powers, it was the plans for a bomb to be used as part of an ISIS terror plot.
The 14-year-old, identified only as Mertkan G., was allegedly encouraged by ISIS operatives online to bomb a Vienna train station and downloaded the plans for an explosive device in order to carry out the plot. In recent years, the Islamic State has excelled at using online propaganda and direct outreach to radicalize young people around the world. However, in this case it may not have been ideology that turned the tide, but a promise of cold hard cash. An unconfirmed report from AFP suggests that the Austrian teen may have been offered 25,000 Euros as compensation for carrying out the attack.
Social media is often praised for its ability to easily connect individuals around the world and to build ad hoc communities around ideas and interests. Unfortunately, it has also proven and invaluable tool for terrorists and radicals aiming to recruit young people to their cause.
Mertkan will spend eight months in a juvenile jail as punishment for joining a terrorist organization and plotting to carry out an attack on civilians. Prosecutors say he showed no remorse, but his lawyers told the BBC that he was aware that he had been manipulated by propaganda and expressed confidence in his speedy rehabilitation.