Radicalized on a Cruise? Why the Vegas Shooter's Middle East Trips Tell us Nothing

Published October 9th, 2017 - 09:42 GMT
Stephen Paddock visited the Middle East before killing 58 in Las Vegas (AFP)
Stephen Paddock visited the Middle East before killing 58 in Las Vegas (AFP)
  • Police investigating a mass shooting in Las Vegas have revealed the killer visited the Middle East
  • Social media has been flooded with people leaping to conclusions about his trips to Jordan and the U.A.E.
  • But Stephen Paddock made the visits on multiple cruises which also docked in European countries
  • Still, the media was quick to exploit the clickbait potential of his visits to the Arab world


by Rosie Alfatlawi

His attack has been claimed by ISIS multiple times and now, it has emerged, we know that he had previously traveled to the Middle East.

For some, this new revelation seemed to offer proof that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 concertgoers last week, was a radicalized Islamist.

A connection was even made between the Middle East trips and reports that he had rigged his car with Tannerite to “make [it] explode if fired upon”. 

The fact that the man behind the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history traveled to the U.A.E. and Jordan was revealed on Sunday by police, who continue to search for a motive for his horrific actions.

But those assuming his visits had anything to do with his later murderous rampage are on shaky ground.

In fact, Paddock came to the Middle East across 20 cruise holidays with stops at ports in Italy, Greece and Spain, CNN reported.

While the full details of the trips have not been revealed by police, cruises rarely stop in locations for long.

By definition, cruises involve moving around multiple destinations and sleeping on the ship.

The extent of his visits to the Middle East are likely to be little more than a few hours buying souvenirs in Aqaba or Dubai. 

Rather than seeking out terrorist groups, it seems more likely that the appeal of the cruises for Paddock - an avid gambler - lay in the onboard casinos.



Twitter users were not alone in speculating a connection, but were joined by some major news sites.

“The region, where Isis and other jihadi groups have a presence in some areas, may be of interest to security services because of speculation Paddock became radicalised,” The Independent reported.

Headlines such as “Las Vegas shooter visited the Middle East” are hugely misleading.

Jordan and the Emirates are not Iraq or Syria. The two are close allies of the U.S. and many European nations, and ISIS is only present there in the way it is in Britain or France, for instance: sleeper cells hiding from the authorities.

Paddock’s girlfriend, not his wife, was from the predominantly Christian Philippines and lived in Australia. 

On top of all of this, despite the repeated assertion made by ISIS media outlets that Paddock was a “soldier of the caliphate”, investigators insist that there is no evidence to back the claim.

In fact, they reportedly continue to be stumped by the reasons behind the shooting, with Paddock having left no note or internet history to offer clues as to his motive.

Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters earlier this week that despite following 1,000 leads, “we do not still have a motive or reason why."

In the meantime, some on social media have come to their own conclusion as to the reasons for Paddock’s deadly actions on Oct. 1.

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