Gaming Files Found In Osama Bin Laden’s Compound May Not Have Been His

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Yesterday, after the CIA generously released 470,000 files found on a computer in Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout complex, it came out that among them was a trove of video games ranging from Counter-Strike to a smutty anime game. News spread that the most famous terrorist of all time may have also been a huge video games and anime freak.

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I’m here to tell you that, probably, Bin Laden wasn’t guzzling Pocky and gunning down aliens in Half-Life. Another theory is likely.

Sure, a small library of games (plus emulators for these games) including Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Yoshi’s Island DS and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars exist among the hundreds of thousands of files on a computer in the compound that housed Bin Laden. There were also sexy games like Perestroinka Girls. Movies like Antz, Cars and Resident Evil appeared among those files, too.

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And yet, if you see bold proclamations that “Osama bin Laden was a Steam user” or “Osama Bin Laden Files Reveal That He Played Video Games And Loved Anime,” pause for a moment and consider this: The computer was not necessarily Bin Laden’s personal computer. The CIA refers to its contents as “files recovered in the May 2011 raid on Usama Bin Ladin’s compound.” I have not yet found a definitive source proving that the computer was Bin Laden’s personal gaming hub. A lot of people might have had access.

Housed alongside Bin Laden and his wives in the three-floor Abbottabad, Pakistan safe house were about a dozen children ranging from infants to teens, Pakistani security officials have reported. Not all of them were Bin Laden’s, too—apparently, Bin Laden’s courier’s wives and children also lived in that large complex.

It’s entirely possible that, contrary to widespread reports that “Osama bin Laden liked retro-games and anime,” it is one of these dozen children who is, in fact, a nerd.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

In the wake of the data dump, there’s been an awful lot of people howling, “bin Laden was doing X,” or, “Look, bin Laden was into Y!”

There are two important things to note here:

1.) As Cecilia correctly points out, these files were pulled from a network, meaning a lot of people had access. That bin Laden likely accessed at least some of these files is a given, but to presume that he accessed all of them is absolutely ridiculous.

2.) It wouldn’t matter even if he had accessed all of them. As much as it pains me to say it (because I hated the man with every fiber of my being while he was still alive; I was a sophomore in college when the 9/11 attacks went down, and I cannot remember a time since then when I wanted to sign up for the armed forces -more-. I eventually would, years later, but that’s an entirely different story—in that moment, I wanted to go down to the Marine recruiting office and get on the ground as quickly as possible; thankfully, my old man, a twenty-year officer, talked me down), bin Laden was a human being, just like everyone else. His existence cannot be distilled down to a single act, however evil, heartless, and monstrous that act was.

Nor can his existence be justified by sharing interests and hobbies with people who did not orchestrate the mass murder of thousands of civilians for no other purpose than to prove a philosophical point.

He was what he was. Playing Counterstrike, even assuming he did, would have fuck-all to do with the monstrous actions he was responsible for.

Liking anime would absolve him of nothing—it would just make him the mastermind behind the deadliest foreign attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor who happened to like anime.

Hobbies do not a person define. Actions do. His actions will always be his epitaph, and they will speak louder than any one of his other interests ever could.

Shit, if interests aside from warfare mattered, we could paint any number of history’s monsters with rose-colored hues, as every last one of them did things aside from engage in outright genocide.

...they’re still responsible for mass murder. That doesn’t change.

Osama bin Laden was, and always will be, one of history’s worst monsters. There are worse, in terms of total body count—and impact on history—and there are some that have been domestic to the US, just as there are some that have been domestic to every nation on the planet.

I don’t give a fuck what his Steam handle was (or wasn’t). I’m just glad he’s gone.