MILWAUKEE AP - Police across the country have responded to hundreds of paintball fights in recent weeks, a trend that authorities say began around the time an Atlanta rapper began posting YouTube videos encouraging people to trade real guns for paintball weapons. But what started as an attempt to reduce gun violence has become anything but harmless.
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Police thought the phenomenon led to shooting deaths last month in Greensboro, North Carolina, and near Atlanta. The fast-moving paintballs have also injured bystanders caught in the crossfire and caused property damage in Milwaukee, Detroit and Atlanta. And we strongly believe this particular activity led to the death of a young man," said Capt. Nathaniel Davis of the Greensboro Police Department. When officers responded to an April 20 report of a shooting, they found year-old Zyquarius Shalom Quadre Bradley with gunshot wounds and paintball damage around his car.
Police also found paintball guns and a mask. The investigation continues. No one has been arrested, Davis said. A few weeks earlier, on April 1, a 3-year-old boy was killed in Dekalb County, Georgia, when a teenager shot a real gun at his attackers during a paintball fight. One of the bullets struck the boy, police said. Greensboro police have responded to nearly 40 reports of paintball fights since the start of April. The numbers are larger in bigger cities.
Milwaukee police received at least 65 calls about paintball battles over the past week and arrested one person. Hours after Milwaukee officers held a news conference Monday to alert the public, a year-old bicyclist was shot in the eye with a paintball. During the news conference, police emphasized that paintballs can do serious damage on the streets because they travel up to feet per second. At venues where people pay to play, participants shield themselves with face masks and other protective gear, including padded vests. Police have not said conclusively what sparked the trend. But in Atlanta, one of the cities where paintball fights were first reported, the calls began near the end of March - around the same time that rapper 21 Savage began posting YouTube videos with the message "Guns Down, Paintballs Up," according to Sgt.
See if you think his captivity was just. See what it did to his family. Relaxing is easy. In practice, many military-police officers killed time by watching movies and getting drunk at the Tiki Bar; they also took flights to Afghanistan, to pick up more detainees.
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But Wood spent his days in the base library, researching topics that Salahi had brought up in the cell. In time, Wood began to think of everything he had known before meeting Salahi as a narrow-minded myth of American superiority, notable for its omissions of overseas misadventures. It was the spring of There were no weapons of mass destruction.
He began to wonder whether the case against Mohamedou Salahi was as flimsy and politically motivated as that for the invasion had been. Salahi underwent daily interrogations. The sessions Wood witnessed were calm and courteous, with Salahi attempting to answer everything asked of him. One night, when Salahi was asleep, Wood heard sounds that reminded him of a child having a nightmare. He walked into the sleeping area and found Salahi lying in the fetal position, shaking. The night terrors kept coming. Salahi was on a diet of Ensure nutrition shakes and antidepressants.
Although Wood had introduced himself to Salahi as Stretch, his nickname from the sawmill, Salahi had quickly learned his real name, as well as those of the other guards. He walked into the morning sunlight in a daze, unable to reconcile his impression of the man in Echo Special with the depiction of the terrorist in the dossier. Had Wood remained as a regular guard, in one of the regular cellblocks, he might have finished his deployment with his understanding of the global war on terror more or less intact.
One day, Salahi started requesting paper from his guards. For the first time, he described his experiences without fear of retribution. On one page, he recalled the day he got his nickname, when an interrogator brought him a pillow.
I took the pillow as a sign of the end of the physical torture. Mohamedou Ould Salahi was born in late December, , the ninth child of a Mauritanian camel herder and his wife. Like most countries in West Africa, Mauritania had gained independence from France a decade earlier. Few locals spoke French, but since the country had been arbitrarily drawn up as a vast, mostly desert territory, populated by numerous ethnic groups who spoke different languages, there was no alternative for official documentation.
Mauritania is an Islamic republic, with rich traditions in poetry and recitation that belie its dismal rates of literacy and economic growth. As a teen-ager, Salahi memorized the entire Quran. He grew up measuring political eras by military coups—, , —changes in power that did little to alter the ways in which Mauritanians experienced power. The lack of progress, development, and freedom in Mauritanian society inspired in Salahi a righteous anger toward autocracy and corruption, and a desire to fight for something bigger than himself.
He and Salahi were smitten with the Al Qaeda narrative, that a ragtag group of mujahideen, carrying light weapons and hiding in caves, were taking on a superpower in the defense of all Muslims. In , Salahi graduated from high school and won a scholarship to study engineering in Duisburg, Germany.
He was the first person in his family to attend university. But the call to jihad interrupted his studies.
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By , the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan, but Al Qaeda was still fighting against the Communist Afghan government that the Soviets had installed. That December, shortly before his twentieth birthday, Salahi boarded a flight to Pakistan and crossed into Afghanistan, and although he never met bin Laden, he soon pledged his allegiance to the Al Qaeda leadership. Walid, who was sixteen, stayed behind. But two months later, when Salahi returned to Mauritania and described his experience of the jihad, Walid resolved to set off on his own for Afghanistan.
Walid was a prodigious poet—in Nouakchott, he had won several awards—and when bin Laden met him he was impressed by his eloquence and conviction. In the spring of , Salahi returned to Afghanistan. Because he had no experience with weapons, Al Qaeda personnel sent him to the Al Farouq training camp, near Khost, where he learned how to use a Kalashnikov rifle and launch rocket-propelled grenades.
But by then the Soviet Union had collapsed, and, while Salahi was in training, the Afghan government lost its Russian support. After three months, he left Afghanistan and returned to Duisburg, where he worked in a computer-repair shop while he finished his degree. Several Mauritanians had travelled to battlefields in Afghanistan and Bosnia, and Mahfouz Walid had become an important figure in Al Qaeda; he now went by the nom de guerre Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.
In Nouakchott, Abdellahi and his subordinates began to map out the network, detaining people close to Abu Hafs and soliciting the names of other jihadis. Several young men mentioned Salahi as a contact in Germany. How does he live? How does he behave? How does he react to world events? The cousins had married a pair of sisters, and so they were now also brothers-in-law. But, after Salahi returned to Germany, they had scarcely been in touch. Salahi agreed, and Abu Hafs wired around four thousand dollars to his German account.
A similar phone call, followed by a second transaction, took place in December, So, when Abu Hafs called Salahi for assistance a third time, in early , Salahi refused, and hung up. Al Qaeda had by this time transformed into an international terrorist organization that was launching attacks in East Africa and the Middle East. He escaped through a kitchen door.
Over dinner, they explained that they were heading east, for the jihad. The men slept on his floor and left for Afghanistan at dawn. By now, Salahi was under surveillance by German intelligence. But the Germans saw no reason to detain or question him.
But he did not consider himself a member of Al Qaeda, or a facilitator of its operations. When they asked whether Salahi was involved in any terrorist activities, the friend laughed. But Salahi wanted to live free of surveillance, and he decided to leave the country.
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Salahi landed in Montreal on November 26, His wife returned to Nouakchott. His friend, Hosni Mohsen, introduced him to the imam at the Al Sunnah mosque.
The mosque had thousands of attendees, a few of whom belonged to an Algerian jihadi group that had come to the attention of the French and Canadian intelligence services. One of the Algerian jihadis was Ahmed Ressam, a serial thief who was living in Canada under a false identity. In , he had travelled to Afghanistan, and spent a year in Al Qaeda training camps, where he learned to handle weapons and explosives. A week after Salahi began leading prayers at the Al Sunnah mosque, Ressam drove a rental car onto a U. When the boat reached Port Angeles, near Seattle, customs officers found in the car more than a hundred pounds of explosives, along with four timed detonators, each fashioned from a nine-volt battery, a circuit board, and a Casio watch.
Ressam told investigators that he had planned to detonate suitcases in a crowded terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. After the failed attack, Canada began to aggressively investigate the Montreal cell. One night, Salahi awoke to the sound of a tiny hole being drilled into his wall. The next morning, he found two pinhole cameras.
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Salahi called the police to report that his neighbors were spying on him, but they told him that he should just cover the cameras with glue. Soon afterward, Canadian investigators came to the apartment and questioned him about the Millennium Plot. He began to notice surveillance everywhere.
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