WASHINGTON, June 12, 2016 — America is once again the scene of a bloody domestic terrorism attack, this time in Orlando, Florida. The FBI and local authorities have identified Omar Mateen of St. Lucie County, Florida, as the shooter who killed 49 and injured 53 at Pulse, a gay nightclub.
Was the Orlando attack tied to a recently released ISIS “Kill List” that named Florida as a target? Fox News reports that ISIS claims responsibility for the attack. CNN reports that Mateen called 911 just before entering the nightclub, pledged allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombers.
Some news organizations have suggested that the worst terror assault on American soil since 9/11 was an anti-gay hate crime. President Obama did not. Finally, he did not lead from behind on this terrorist tragedy.
In a White House news conference, the president said, “We know enough to say this was an act of terror and act of hate.” Those accustomed to Obama’s instinctive response to treat terrorist attacks in America as simple crimes facilitated by weak gun control laws might have been surprised that he immediately identified Orlando as a terrorist attack.
There were warning signs from ISIS as recent as last week. According to Florida KLEW-TV, the “United Cyber Caliphate,” a pro-ISIS group released a kill-list that targeted at least 600 Florida residents. Former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan was alarmed by the list threat, which provided the names, addresses and even emails of thousands of American citizens.
The serious threat posed by this ISIS-related terrorist group cannot be understated. This same group threatened President Obama and hacked the U.S. Central Command’s 54,000 Twitter accounts.
Both Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency that covers the city as well as Orange County. The victims’ families and the nation are dealing with memories of earlier terrorist attacks. Until this morning, the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, where 32 and 27 were killed, were the nation’s deadliest mass shootings.
One of the most important safety tools one can have during a terrorist attack turns out to be a cell phone. These were effectively used by many club patrons who were trapped inside the nightclub during the attack. Law enforcement officials were able to speak with and receive texts in real time from the people who were hiding or being held hostage by the gunman.
Could this terrorist assault have been prevented?
The 29-year-old Mateen’s social media postings on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace may hold some clues. According to CNN, the FBI had investigated the former security guard for possible ties to Islamic extremism and had opened two cases against him. Unfortunately for his victims, the FBI closed both cases for lack of evidence.
Despite the predictable protests of gun control advocates and some state and local officials, ISIS-inspired terrorists are not interested in abiding by gun control laws. They are at war with America’s values and principles. According to Fox News, an ATF official said that Mateen had a statewide firearms license and legally purchased two guns, a handgun and a long gun, a week before the shooting.
In the end, this lone-terrorist attack may not have been readily predictable. What is predictable is how Americans prepare and defend themselves ahead of time for possible attacks of all kinds. We should always be aware of the exits before entering any building. Make certain that your cell phone is fully charged before you attend an event or go to a store, movie or mall.
The 49 who died inside the club and the 53 who were injured are certainly a reminder that the war on terrorism is firmly entrenched on American soil.
To be effective against domestic terrorism, America’s leaders and its president must call the murderers by their name: extreme Islamic terrorists. Stop pretending that the enemy does not exist End the political correctness. To continue to do so will be at the nation’s peril.