At approximately 0200 Omar Saddiqui Mateen, a 29-year-old second generation (cleanskin) American citizen of Afghani descent from Ft. Pierce, Florida approached a LGBT club (Pulse Night Club) in Orlando, Florida. He exchanged gunfire with an off duty police officer outside the establishment before entering and killing 49 patrons, wounding 53, and held an untold number of patrons hostage.
Until approximately 0500 a hostage standoff ensued until calls and texts from patrons trapped inside the club stated the gunman was gearing up to escalate the violence and kill the remaining hostages. At that time, a senior law enforcement official ordered the SWAT Team to breach the building and free the hostages. Unfortunately, Mr. Mateen was killed, leaving law enforcement to investigate if he was a radicalized lone gunman, or if he had internal or external guidance and support.
The FBI declared Mr. Mateen as a “person of interest” in 2012 and 2013 and was investigated for possible terror ties and sympathies. Despite FBI inquiries, he managed to maintain a security clearance and worked seven years for a major private security contractor that provides site security for U.S. Federal Buildings.
This act of mass murder is currently under investigation. However, there are a few details to ponder.
There are a few striking moments that stand out regarding this attack.
The mode and methods of this assault are similar to many other acts of mass murders to include: The 2015 attacks on a Paris Kosher Deli, the murders in San Bernardino, the multiple and coordinated assaults in Paris, and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. These attacks have a few common denominators.
1) The vast majority of the assailants are not migrants or immigrants but second generation (cleanskin) citizens self radicalized through the use of social media.
2) Most of the assailants were not not devout Muslims.
3) Many victims were individuals were targeted because of ethnicity or engaged in activities the assailants (or those they wanted to impress) considered un-Islamic and deemed fit for nothing but death (the Boston Bombings are the exception).
4) These attacks were directed against soft targets where the assailants had the advantage of inflicting maximum casualties long before law enforcement could react.
5) Most of the assailants are not terrorists (they are disaffected criminals) since they make no demands and do not expect to survive.
These “so-called terrorists,” who take lives and commit other heinous crimes, do not act in pursuit of political goals and therefore do not meet the definition of terrorist. Instead, they should be known as nothing more than murderers and common criminals that commit acts of terror, and unworthy of the label “terrorist.”
In conclusion, we must understand the nature of threats and acts of violence has changed with the advent of social media, and Americans must realize violence and the threat of violence that has plagued Europe for the last 45 years may become our “New Normal.”
Brent Shapiro is a senior consultant and guest lecturer at Montblanc Consulting, Collinsville.