The horrifying massacre in Orlando last night was clearly a hate crime, not an Islamic terrorist attack. Let’s dispel the right-wing narrative being pushed to promote Trump’s xenophobic agenda right now.
The shooter’s parents said it was a hate crime, and “nothing to do with religion.” One of the shooter’s former co-workers – an ex-cop – said he wasn’t surprised the unhinged homophobe committed mass murder. The shooter’s imam in Florida asserted that claiming allegiance to Daesh (IS/ISIS/ISIL) was nothing but a PR ploy by the mass murderer.
Daesh didn’t say a thing about the shootings until after American media reported a terror link, which is unusual for their planned attacks (twin bombings in Damascus that killed 20 earlier today were claimed immediately) and right now, they are taking pains not to claim prior assistance, because there just was no actual prior link.
The shooter’s “allegiance” call, made to 911 as the attack was underway, was nothing but the shooter’s self-serving but effective attempt to elevate his horrific hate crime into martyrdom. With a single phone call and nothing else, the mainstream media bought it hook line and sinker.
Daesh itself isn’t showing evidence of involvement, only celebrating the “lone wolf” in Orlando, not claiming any complicity other than actively cheerleading the misfortune of Americans.
Police and mainstream media immediately and wrongly pounced on the shooter’s declaration of allegiance to Daesh to brand the heinous attack on the LTBTQ community as terrorism, because it furthers the narrative that feeds their bottom line: fear of terrorists. ISIS couldn’t ask for a better public relations department than the FBI and the ratings jackals at CNN to transform and elevate the wife beating, gay-hating murderer Omar Mateen into a fundamentalist terrorist.
The FBI started calling the shooting of over 100 people at 2am this morning inside the “Pulse” nightclub an act of terror early in the morning, without offering any evidence. Then CNN got busy, running full screen “Terror in Orlando” graphics, too busy fearmongering to notice that Reuters is reporting that there are no links between the monstrous shooter and the Islamic State except the madman’s very own words, in one phone call made just prior to the shooting. Reuters reports this evening that:
The FBI official cautioned, however, that proving the suspected link to radical Islamism required further investigation. Three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation into the massacre said that no evidence had yet been found showing a direct link with Islamic State or any other militant group. There is “no evidence yet that this was directed or connected to ISIS. So far as we know at this time, his first direct contact was a pledge of bayat (loyalty) he made during the massacre,” said a U.S. counter-terrorism official, referring to a 911 call the suspect made on Sunday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
That’s right, Daesh didn’t claim the Orlando shooting at all until American media reported a 911 call from the shooter. Arabic language reporters indicate that ISIS propaganda calls the Orlando shooter a lone wolf. Even the ISIS official propaganda outlet used an unusual qualifier, that of a “source to Amaq Agency” – the source obviously being American media reports. In fact, over 18 hours after the incident, ISIS hasn’t offered any evidence of prior knowledge of the Orlando shooting.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) June 12, 2016
The mass murderer was a Florida licensed security guard who held a statewide gun permit and had no criminal record, but as has happened in so many other fatal shootings he had only acquired the murder weapon – a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle – just last week. Sadly, the shooter’s former work colleagues said that they weren’t surprised to hear that Mateen was a mass murderer. Former-Ft. Pierce cop Daniel Gilroy called the hate-filled mass murderer homophobic, unhinged and toxic to the local media. Gilroy quit after the shooter sent him numerous harassing text messages and phone messages.
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) June 12, 2016
The Orlando shooter worshipped at the Islamic Center of Ft. Pierce whose imam said:
“There is nothing outside the door that says you can’t come in and worship God and be here and pray if you are gay,” he said. As for the statements Mateen made about ISIS, Rahman thinks that he may have done that for publicity. He says the mosque has no ties to the terrorist organization and speaks out against them at every gathering.
Without a doubt, the Orlando shooter intentionally targeted a gay club, because LGBTQ people would be there. When NBC interviewed the shooter’s stunned parents, they did not hesitate. The shooter’s parents immediately pointed to an incident in Miami where he saw two men kissing.
But now, this cowardly homophobe, a wife-beating, unhinged and toxic security guard has been transformed – while Donald Trump is busy doing a happy dance and tweeting about himself – from a hate-crime committing murderer, into a dangerous terrorist on a holy mission. Ignoring the hate crime, and pumping up the terrorist angle neatly fits the most familiar and mutually beneficial narrative for corporate news networks to drive viewership. Simultaneously, the news giants’ wall to wall terror coverage pleases the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies like DHS and the FBI who need to justify their fat budgets. Using the FBI’s virtually unlimited budget and expansive mandate and the old Patriot Act too, federal terrorism investigators cleared the shooter’s distant terror links. They found nothing in both 2013 and 2014.
Let’s cut though the nonsense and call this horrifying attack what it really is: the worst hate crime in American history.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition.