ISIL took responsibility for Orlando massacre
ISIS claimed responsibility for the mass shooting attack in an Orlando gay club on Sunday that left at least 50 people dead.“The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida, and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” the group said in a report on its official Amaq news agency. The message was attributed to an unnamed “source” and distributed over the Telegram messaging app on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, an ISIS-run radio station also labeled the man identified as the shooter, Omar Mateen, as “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.”
The claim comes after law-enforcement officials quoted by multiple news organizations, including NBC News and the New York Times said the suspected shooter, Omar Mateen, called 911 before the attack in order to swear his allegiance to ISIS. Speaking at a news conference in Orlando on Tuesday afternoon, an FBI official confirmed that Mateen had made a call to 911, but did not indicate the content of the call. A security company, G4S, said Sunday that Mateen had been employed there since 2007, adding that it was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting. “We are cooperating fully with all law-enforcement authorities,” the company said.
The claims underline a pattern in which ISIS seeks to inspire sympathizers to carry out attacks — with or without operational support from the group — and then claims responsibility for the carnage after the fact. In such plots, the connection to ISIS as a central organization may exist only in the attacker’s mind, but the resulting violence is no less lethal.
Declarations of allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have been a hallmark of past attacks by jihadist sympathizers, including the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting in December. One of the two shooters in the Garland, Texas, shooting in May 2015 indicated support for ISIS in a post on Twitter just before the attack.
The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday came weeks after a top ISIS official issued a call for attacks throughout the world during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 6.
In an audio recording released on May 22, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani called for “a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers,” saying his appeal was “especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America.”
In the recording attributed to al-Adnani, he specifically focused on ISIS supporters who are no longer able to reach ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria and join the so-called caliphate. The message seems geared toward inspiring “lone wolves” — attackers who are inspired by ISIS but may have no organizational ties with the group whatsoever.
“The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night,” Adnani was quoted as saying.
Ramadan — a holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer and reflection — is observed by Muslims worldwide. But militant groups including both ISIS and al-Qaeda have used Ramadan as a pretext to ramp up attacks and gain attention. A recent report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War argues that ISIS is seeking to use Ramadan “as an occasion to reorient its strategy” with attacks both in its core arena of operations in Iraq and Syria and abroad.