“An American-born man who’d pledged allegiance to ISIS gunned down 49 people early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11, authorities said,” read the CNN report on the June 12, 2016 terrorist attack at the Pulse club.
Shooter Omar Mateen, 29, called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers. The FBI had interviewed Mateen in 2013 and 2014 but he “was not found to be a threat” and at the time of the attack he was not under investigation.
Mateen’s parents, who hailed from Afghanistan, “didn’t consider him particularly religious and didn’t know of any connection he had to ISIS.” Mateen’s ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy, “originally from Uzbekistan,” told CNN Mateen “was bipolar, although he was not formally diagnosed.”
A website associated with the ISIS news agency Amaq said the attack was “carried out by an Islamic State fighter.” CNN’s Salma Abdelaziz, “cautioned about taking the message at face value.”
“This community was shaken by an evil and hateful act,” said the composite character president David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. The president’s 1855-word statement did not identify the shooter and named not a single one of Mateen’s victims.
“We will continue to be relentless against terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda,” the president said but, the Orlando and San Bernardino “terrorist attacks” were carried out “not by external plotters, not by vast networks or sophisticated cells, but by deranged individuals warped by the hateful propaganda that they had seen over the Internet.” The president’s statement included no mention of “Islamic,” “Muslim,” or “jihadist.”
Omar Mateen’s victims included African Americans Antonio Davon Brown, 29; Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25; and Jason Benjamin Josaphat, only 19. The president’s statement contained no reference to racism on the part of Omar Mateen. The victims included many homosexuals, but the president did not charge Mateen with homophobia. The president did decry “the plague of violence that these weapons of war inflict on so many young lives.”
In a 337-word statement, vice president Joe Biden denounced “an act of pure hate and unspeakable terror,” but did not name the shooter or any of his victims. Biden was uncertain of “any connection or inspiration there may be with terrorist organizations,” and did not mention the Islamic State. The violence was “not normal” and “the targeting of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is evil and abhorrent.” Vice president Biden failed to note that victims included African Americans and Puerto Ricans of African ancestry.
“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” said presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Like Obama and Biden, Clinton denounced “assault weapons” and “weapons of war,” which apparently act independently. None of the three linked the attack to radical Islamic terrorism, an evasion also on display in the response to Hidal Hasan’s mass murder of American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 5, 2009.
The self-described “Soldier of Allah” yelled “Allahu akbar” as he gunned down 13 American soldiers and wounded more than 30 others. The president failed to call the attack terrorism, hatred, or even gun violence. It was only “workplace violence.” The victims included African Americans but the president did not accuse Hasan of racism and in 2014 he declined to meet with Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who took seven bullets from the Muslim.
For vice president Joe Biden, the terrorist mass murder at Ford Hood was a “senseless tragedy” and the Delaware Democrat hailed “the brave soldiers who fell.” No word of how the soldiers “fell,” nor any hint that the terrorist mass murder could easily have been prevented.
As Lessons from Fort Hood explains, Hasan’s radical Islam was on full display during his training at Walter Reed Medical Center. The FBI was aware of Hasan’s communications with al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about killing Americans. The Washington office of the FBI called off the surveillance and took no action against Hasan before his mass murder of American soldiers. The American-born Muslim was wounded but survived.
In 2016, Orlando police killed Omar Mateen, who did not act alone. As police learned, his wife, Noor Salman, helped Mateen case potential targets, including Downtown Disney, known for large crowds. In April, Walt Disney World told the FBI Mateen and Salman appeared to be conducting surveillance. Salman was also with Mateen when he purchased firearms and ammunition.
A week before the attack, Mateen asked her, “How bad would it be if a nightclub was attacked?” Orlando police chief John Mina knew “within days” that Salman had aided Mateen. On January 16, 2017, the FBI charged Salman with providing material support to a terrorist and obstruction of justice. Noor Salman admitted in court, “I wish I had been more truthful” and “I’m very sorry I lied to the FBI.” For those lapses, the terrorist’s wife would suffer no penalty.
In 2018, Salman was acquitted, another blow to families of the victims. Police Chief Mina told reporters “nothing can erase the pain we all feel” about the murders. They are still feeling it in 2021, five years after Orlando, with the White House occupied by the addled Joe Biden.
In the third term of the composite character president, Islamic jihadists and their abettors enjoy a target-rich environment. If they murder 49 people, including African Americans and homosexuals, they will not be called racists or homophobes. The administration will ignore their true motives and blame “weapons of war” or mental illness. The victims will be quickly forgotten and their loved ones ignored.
The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is coming up in September. To adapt Milan Kundera, the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism is the struggle of memory against forgetting.