I hedged earlier today on whether or not the Orlando terrorist attack was Islamic terrorism, because I wanted to wait for “official confirmation” from authorities and/or terrorist groups. Now it’s starting to look more like Islamic terrorism. Via Reuters:
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said on Sunday that the Islamist militant group was responsible for the shooting that killed at least 50 people in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” Amaq said.
Rukmini Callimachi from The New York Times has further analysis of the comments, and does not believe Omar Mateen was an “official” member of the terrorist group.
39. Here is a screen grab of the Amaq announcement. Notice the wording regarding information from a source: pic.twitter.com/uBTNfbeelY
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) June 12, 2016
41. Language to me indicates the shooter was not dispatched from the core / is a Lone Wolf. Amaq was awaiting confirmation of ISIS pledge
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) June 12, 2016
Callimachi spent seven years in West Africa, so she knows what she’s talking about. Jenan Moussa from Al Aan TV is also a little hesitant on ISIS being involved.
Please note that #ISIS doesn't offer any evidence yet that they knew of the #Orlando attack in advance or that they ordered it. @akhbar
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) June 12, 2016
It’s possible this is a repeat of the Garland terrorist attacks, where the terrorists were inspired by ISIS, but not actual members of the group. There’s obviously a lot to process with this, and it’s going to take time to get through this. It ought to be noted the FBI is not confirming whether or not Mateen officially pledged allegiance to ISIS, but Mateen definitely mentioned the group. Here’s what Agent Ron Hopper told reporters Sunday afternoon.
“There were 911 calls in which there was conversation between the subject and law enforcement representatives with 911 dispatchers. That has become federal evidence…It’s my understanding…it was general to the Islamic State.”
So it looks like Mateen told 911 about ISIS, but we won’t know what was said because it’s now “federal evidence.” Whether or not it will ever be released is up to the whims of the federal government.
Hopper also addressed the interviews the FBI did with Mateen in 2013 and 2014.
“The FBI first became aware of Mateen in 2013 when he made inflammatory comments to co-workers, alleging possible terrorist ties. The FBI thoroughly investigated the matter, including interviews with witnesses, physical surveillance, and records checks. In the course oif the investigation Mateen was interviewed twice. Ultimately we were not able to verify the substance of his comments, and the investigation was closed.
In 2014, Mateen again came to the attention of the FBI because of possible ties to Maner Abusalha, an American suicide bomber. The FBI conducted an investigation including an interview with Mateen. We determined that contact was minimal, and did not constitute a substantive relationship or a threat at that time.”
Abusalha and Mateen are both from Florida, so it’s possible they came into contact there, somehow. It’s interesting to note Abusalha was possibly radicalized by al-Nusra Front, not ISIS. It’s possible Abusalha and Mateen had a closer relationship than what’s been reported, but we don’t know this. Hopefully, more information will be released in the coming days (and possibly months) to paint a fuller picture. The same goes with the connection between Mateen and ISIS, and whether he was inspired by them, had direct contact with them, or had something else as his motive. Mateen’s dad did mention Mateen didn’t like gay people, but the father seems like a piece of work too (including apparently showing support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and claiming to be the country’s president). It’s possible it’s a combination of a bunch of things, we just don’t know yet.
There’s also now a push by some people to do more spying on Muslims and Muslim communities.
The Orlando attack should be reported as an act of war. We need much tougher surveillance. The FBI monitored the killer twice but stopped.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) June 12, 2016
What Gingrich is forgetting is Mateen is an American citizen born in New York in 1989. If the government decides to start spying on Muslim Americans without a warrant, it violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. There’s also been a push to do more background checks and waiting periods for guns and immigrants. I thought Laura K. Fillault had the best answer to this.
She’s absolutely right. The only thing you can try to do is ban stuff (or people) and we know whatever gets banned will make it into the country anyway. The solution is pretty complicated, one that will probably take time, and people are going to have to be patient. It’s tough to do that when the blood is still drying, emotions are raw, and people are hurting mentally and physically. But it’s also the smart thing to do. Hastily put together actions tend to lead to more problems long-term. We need to realize this before jumping without thinking.