President Obama addressed the ISIS-inspired terrorist massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, saying that the site of the shooting was a place where “people have come together…to advocate for their civil rights.”
But it was back in February that Obama met with an imam at the Islamic Society of Baltimore with a history of ant-gay preachings during his historic visit to the mosque.
“The place where they were attacked was more than a nightclub, it was a place of solidarity, of empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights,” Obama said in a national address on Sunday, hours after Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, a 29-year-old New York-born Muslim, killed at least 50 people at the Pulse nightclub.
Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a 911 phone call placed prior to the slaughter. An FBI investigator also said that he had had limited contact with another Islamic terrorist bomber and, in 2013, made extremist statements to co-workers.
Mateen’s father, who lives in the U.S. but was born in Afghanistan, told reporters that he was enraged after seeing two gay men kissing at a park in Miami several months ago.
In his address, Obama called the attack an act of terrorism before pivoting to gun control.
“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing, is a decision that’s wrong,” he said.
What he did not do — despite evidence that had emerged by the time the speech was given — was tie Mateen to radical Islam.
Obama has been accused by many critics of giving Muslim extremists a free pass, both in the wake of terrorist attacks and regarding extremist statements.
Such is the case with the Islamic Society of Baltimore and its resident scholar, Yaseen Shaikh.
The Daily Caller first reported just before Obama’s February visit to the mosque that Shaikh has a history of preaching against homosexuality. (RELATED: The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Presidential Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties)
A 2013 Youtube video shows Shaikh, who previously served as imam at a mosque in Plano, Tex., decrying homosexuality a psychological disorder. He also said that homosexuality has no place in Islam or society and that politicians have allowed gay rights groups to “hijack” political discourse.
“This whole subject of homosexuality in the public sphere…is no longer a religious issue, unfortunately, as much as we want to use the religious card and try to defeat this, now it’s become a politicized issue,” Shaikh said in the video.
“Politicians are highly influenced by people who back them, and we find that these politicians who are calling for gay rights and marriage and supporting gay rights are lobbied and campaigned by gay activists, by gay groups. And they are throwing money at it left and right to gain some acceptance in society, to be considered normal people, to be treated normally.”
Obama and his administration did not address Shaikh’s remarks ahead of his visit. But he did meet with Shaikh and other Muslim community leaders at a roundtable discussion before giving a speech at the mosque.
The Islamic Society of Baltimore has other extremist ties, all of which had been well documented before Obama’s visit was announced.
The mosque is linked to the Islamic Society of North America, a Muslim civil rights group that was named an unindicted co-conspirator in 2007 with the Holy Land Foundation, a group which was named a terrorist front organization.
One of its former imams, Mohammad Adam el-Sheikh, also served as imam at Dar al-Hijrah, a Falls Church, Va. mosque, just after the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki left the position in 2001. Al-Awlaki went on to serve as an organizer for al-Qaeda and was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.