During his rampage in a popular LGBT club in Orlando, Omar Mateen called 911 to send a clear message: His allegiance to the Islamic State. After his initial burst of fire, he reaffirmed his pledge to the terrorist group and justified his attack as the “vengeance” of ISIS for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
Politicization of the attack began almost immediately. Guns were the problem. Homophobia was the problem. Even masculinity. Anything but radical ideology.
Four days after the attack, when Mateen’s declarations of fealty to ISIS were long confirmed, The New York Times wrote “the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear,” prior to launching into a barely veiled attempt to blame Republican politics on transgendered bathrooms. The Atlantic blamed “toxic masculinity” for the attack, while Vox said Mateen’s rampage was a product of, “America’s hypermasculine, police-worshiping society.” Countless members of the media continuously called for gun control (even for weapons that don’t exist).
The almost deliberate avalanche of obfuscation lies in stark contrast to the media reaction following the July 2015 Charleston church shooting by the clearly racist attacker Dylann Roof. The New York Times in an editorial days after the attack blamed, “the odious racism that haunts society’s darkest corners,” along with “a steady stream of enraged people exercising their easy right to bear arms.” Regardless of Roof’s home life, his sexual desires, or his education, the Times immediately recognized radical white supremacist ideology as the primary driver behind his slaughter of nine people.
Reports indicate Mateen may have been a repressed homosexual, he was reportedly a frequent visitor of the club he eventually attacked and regularly used gay dating apps. These reports have spawned an effort to obfuscate the primary driver behind Mateen’s actions, despite his clear and steeped history in radical ideology.
Even if Mateen’s repressed homosexual desires were a motivating factor, ISIS’s ideology would still be the primary driver behind the attack, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow Thomas Jocelyn explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Jocelyn explained that under ISIS’s radical ideology, Mateen could redeem himself for his homosexual desires by carrying out Jihad.
Efforts to emphasize other drivers behind Mateen’s attack are “a deliberate denial and blatant obfuscation of this ideology,” Jocelyn said. He elaborated “A lot of of islamic state fighters are psychopaths. If you’re a guy who is beheading 15 men, you are probably not the most stable individual. None of that excludes the motivation of the ideology itself.”
Nicholas Heras a Research Associate at the Center for New American Security concurred saying, “jihadists may have multiple inspirations to join ISIS, the general commonality between them is that they are motivated by ISIS’s declarations of the caliphate.” Heras elaborated “As long as the caliphate remains, that is an argument for whatever motivation they want to do.”
“The problem now is that any angry young Muslim who wants to commit an extremist act can then give it more meaning by giving a last minute pledge to ISIS,” Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and recent author of a book on Islam, told the DCNF. Hamid cautioned “something can both be a terrorist attack and be primarily motivated by hatred of gays.”
Peter Bergen, Vice President of the New America Foundation who has profiled American homegrown terrorists, told the DCNF that homegrown terrorists often have grievances with society. “They often feel life hasn’t given them a fair-shake and as their grievance deepens they attach themselves to whatever ideology is there and embrace the utopia of violence.”
In the midst of Mateen’s shooting rampage he took the time to go on Facebook to reaffirm his pledge of allegiance to ISIS’s leader, ask Allah to accept him in heaven, and warn the American people “In the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa.”
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