[UPDATE: 15:15]We may as well make it official. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Orlando shooting and pegged Omar Marteen as “an Islamic State fighter.” (CBS News)
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the shooting, CBS News reports. The terror group’s news organization, Aamaq Agency, said the attack was “carried out by an Islamic State fighter.”
Authorities were investigating it as an act of terrorism.
After a day packed with news about this attack, the only surprise here was that it took them so long. The President chose once again not to invoke the name Islamic terrorism when describing this event, but between this acknowledgement and the fact that Marteen called 911 shortly before the attack to publicly pledge his loyalty to them, the case is closed. This is what ISIS and all their sympathizers want for the United States. Our President chooses to mark the occasion by talking gun control.
What we need is terrorist control.
[UPDATE: 13:15] As expected, Omar Marteen was not some random Floridian who was “triggered” by seeing two guys kissing and went off the rails. He was known to the FBI and had been investigated before. (HuffPo)
The senior law enforcement source reports that Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.
“He’s a known quantity,” the source said. “He’s been on the radar before.”
The senior law enforcement source told The Daily Beast that Mateen was born in New York and was married for a time to a woman from New Jersey.
That woman told the Washington Post that he repeatedly abused her during their marraige, which lasted from April 2009 to July 2011.
“He was not a stable person,” the ex-wife said. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”
Somebody was watching this guy at one point but he seems to have slipped off the front page for intelligence agencies. Sadly, it’s too late to ask why we weren’t watching the right terrorist at the right moment, but there clearly seems to be a history here.
[UPDATE: 12:00] More information is beginning to trickle in on the shooter. Congressman Adam Schiff was on CNN earlier claiming that DHS officials had informed him that Seddiqui had already pledged his loyalty to ISIS.
Rep. Schiff, who is always cautious, says Dept. of Homeland Security told him Orlando shooter made pledge of allegiance to Islamic State.
— Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta) June 12, 2016
As usual, take these updates with the typical grain of salt in the early hours, but the hints are dropping that the shooter was already on the radar of US intelligence. I’m seeing even more items popping up behind the curtains which indicate that his father has been attracting a lot of attention as well. (That would be the same father who said this morning that this obviously had nothing to do with religion.) We’ll want further confirmation, of course, but the FBI may be biting into a very big apple on this one.
[UPDATE: 11:05] The press has located and spoken to the shooter’s father who has a rather incredible reaction. According to NBC News, Mir Seddiqui (or Seddique) is claiming that of course this has nothing to do with religion and that his son was just really upset over seeing two men kissing.
Mir Seddique, Mateen’s father told NBC News, “this has nothing to do with religion.” Seddique said his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting.
“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country,” Seddique said.
Meanwhile, a man who answered the phone at Mateen’s address, Mustafa Abasin, told NBC News: “We are in shock and we are said.” He would not say how he knew Mateen, but said he was helping investigators.
If you’ll forgive a bit of skepticism on my part, that sounds unlikely. I’m not saying that Mateen couldn’t have been anti-gay. (Islamic terrorists aren’t exactly known for taking part in pride parades, after all.) But that’s a pretty violent reaction for having “seen two men kissing.” The guy lives in northern Florida and this is the first time in almost thirty years he’s run across two gay guys engaging in a PDA?
The FBI is at the shooter’s house and will no doubt be tearing into every aspect of his life for weeks to come. I’ll wait for their evaluation of what led this attack.
[UPDATE: 10:25] This was precisely the type of update we didn’t want to see. The initial reports of approximately 20 dead in the Orlando nightclub was apparently far off the mark. The Orlando Police are now reporting the death toll to be at 50 with an additional 53 injured. This would be far and away the largest mass shooting in United States history.
Also, the site has been declared clear of “devices” and none of the suspected items, including the one on the body of the shooter, were deemed active and dangerous in terms of being bombs. A hotline has been set up for the relatives of those affected to check on their status. Sounds like the law enforcement agencies handling the situation at all levels are working together smoothly and doing a great job.
[UPDATE: 10:15]For what it’s worth, the shooter appears to have been a registered voter in the Sunshine State.
[UPDATE: 9:10] CBS News has identified the shooter as Port St. Lucie resident Omar Mateen, a US citizen.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 12, 2016
This should clear up the “not from the local area” question if we get additional confirmation.
[UPDATE: 8:35] The Orlando Police are confirming via Twitter that one of their officers was shot in the head by the suspect during the firefight but their Kevlar helmet saved them.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
[UPDATE: 8:20] One item which I didn’t include in the original article which seems to be drawing a lot of attention on cable news and social media is that Pulse is described as a “gay night club.” It appears that some pundits were getting ahead of the story early (as usual) and implying that this was probably some sort of Christian conservative hatemonger who wanted to kill a lot of gay people. I’m not sure why that was a distinction early on because it’s not as if ISIS is particularly embracing of the gay lifestyle either. It’s yet another lesson in why useless speculation before all the information comes in is counterproductive.
Also, the FBI seems to have identified the shooter (without releasing his identity) and are saying that he’s “not from the area.” That too could mean almost anything. The shooting began around two in the morning and there was an approximately three hour standoff before the suspect was killed.
Original article continues below.
Everyone was waking up to yet another avalanche of dire news out of Florida this morning. In Orlando, someone entered Pulse Nightclub and began shooting up the place. As with all such situations, this is a breaking story and details remain sketchy. The initial accounts from the Orlando Police, the county Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are describing a mass casualty event resulting from what they are describing as an act of terror by someone who “had radical Islamic leanings.” (NBC News)
Approximately 20 people are dead and scores wounded after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police said early Sunday.
Officials said a hostage situation developed after the gunman stormed the Pulse Nightclub about 2 a.m. The gunman was shot dead about three hours later when a SWAT team entered the club.
“We are looking at probably in the range of 20 [dead], but we don’t want to give you an exact figure,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
The incident “could definitely be classified as domestic terrorism,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.
You’ll note that the initial reports had plenty of people describing the event as “domestic terrorism” which could include a wide range of motives, but by the time the FBI finally spoke up at a press conference after 7 o’clock this morning, they were describing the perpetrator as probably having “Islamic leanings.” ABC News confirmed this on Twitter a short time later.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2016
We’ll be adding more updates at the top of the page as things develop, but the awful numbers in the early going don’t sound good. As many as 20 dead inside the night club (possibly more) and more than forty injured being treated on the scene or at local hospitals. A “device” was found on the shooter (presumably explosive in nature) and they’re searching the club and surrounding area for more of the same. It’s obviously going to take time to sort through all of this, so stay tuned.