On Sunday morning, June 13, Omar Mir Siddique Mateen walked into Orlando’s Pulse gay club and mowed 49 people down with his AR-15. Many more were wounded. The murderer died in a shootout with the police.
Donald Trump immediately blamed “radical Islam” for the massacre. Was he right? Partly – yes.
An extremist caliphatist brand of Islam provided the ideological banner; tortured personality supplied the fuel. The FBI correctly spotted the early warning signs. However, our democratic system of human rights severely limiting our counterintelligence capabilities prevented the Bureau from neutralizing the lethal threat. Thus, the pattern repeats itself, as it had in Boston, and elsewhere.
Here’s a profile of the killer, flowing logically from the FBI’s two investigations. Mateen is yet another “lone wolf.” We have been expecting this type of a perpetrator for a while. Several of them were caught before they succeeded in raining mayhem on America. Others carried out their nefarious terror plots, including, most notoriously, a fraternal duo (Boston) and a wife-and-husband team (San Bernardino). The most recent perpetrator acted alone, even if he kept his wife somewhat informed.
Mateen was born in 1986 to Afghani refugees in New York. He was brought up in his parents’ Sunni faith. Initially rather tepid in his religion, at the end the mass murderer four times a week attended a tiny mosque at Fort Pierce, Florida, where he resided. On Friday, June 11, he prayed there for the last time with his toddler. And soon after Omar publicly pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. During the massacre itself Mateen used his iPhone to enjoy the impact of his handiwork on social media. He even called a TV station to brag about murdering people, while invoking his Muslim faith. So, everything should be clear. The perpetrator committed a crime for religious reasons and draped it in the garb of the caliphate. Let’s dig deeper, though.
The fanaticism grew incrementally. A chubby kid, who as a young adult bulked up on steroids, dealt with many personal issues. Those included anger problems, bouts of violence, escape into fantasy, and shows of insecurity stemming from his self-perceived mediocrity and inferior physique. What normal American kid would rejoice at the terror act of 9/11, brag about his “jihadist” shooting skills, or claim that Osama bin Laden was his uncle?
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