Terrorist pledged allegiance to ISIS before launching Orlando attack

Omar Mateen

Leaders of ISIS have now officially claimed responsibility for the murders in Orlando. Given that just days ago they called for acts of terrorism inside the U.S. and across Europe, is it possible that more lone wolf attacks — or larger attacks — are coming soon? Federal authorities are trying to answer this question and so many others. Here’s some of what we know so far.

UPDATE: “Hours after the attack, the Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement released over an encrypted phone app used by the group,”reported the New York Times. “It stated that the attack ‘was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,’ according to a transcript provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist propaganda.” That said, “officials cautioned that even if Mr. Mateen, who court records show was born in New York and had been married and divorced, had been inspired by the group, there was no indication that it had trained or instructed him, or had any direct connection with him.” For additional coverage from other sources, click here.

UPDATE: Four days before a shooter in Florida killed at least 50 people and wounded dozens others in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, a pro-ISIS organization released a hit list with more than 8,000 people,” reports The Daily Caller. “The list includes more than 600 people who live in Florida…Known as the “United Cyber Caliphate,” the pro-ISIS group that released the ‘kill list,’ CBS 12 reports, hacked U.S. Central Command, and threatened President Obama. The organization reportedly sent out the names, addresses and emails of thousands of civilian Americans.”

UPDATE: President Obama spoke to reporters this afternoon and confirmed this “this was an act of terror” and an “act of hate” which he called a “horrific massacre.” However, he refused to suggest the possibility that this was an act of Radical Islam. Nor did he mention or comment on reports that the suspect had pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State. For the moment, the President is right not to speculate. He should wait for all the facts to come in. The question is whether he will point to the threat of Radical Islam if that is, in fact, where the facts lead.

(Washington, D.C.) — A senior Member of the House Intelligence Committed says there is evidence that the terrorist responsible for the mass shooting in Orlando pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State prior to acting.

We still need to cautious about what we learn in these early hours. It may take time to sift out precise information from rumors. But this is what an elected official and the media is reporting at this hour, so I’m passing it along to you.

Omar Mateen “made a pledge of allegiance to ISIS,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN, reports the New York Post.

“The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT nightclub during (LGBT) Pride (month) and, if accurate, that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,” Schiff said.

“Whether this attack was also ISIS-directed, remains to be determined,” said Schiff. “I’m confident that we will know much more in the coming hours and days.”

Meanwhile, US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) cited intelligence sources to say that there “appears to be” a link to Islamic radicalism and ISIS, the Post also reported.

“I asked the FBI if there was any connection to Islamic radicalism. There appears to be,” Nelson said. “But they are naturally cautious and waiting throughout to see if if this is, facts emerge.”

“At this point, this is an incident, as I can see it, we can certainly classify as a domestic terror incident,” Jerry Demings of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

UPDATE: Orlando suspect’s father hosted a TV show and now pretends to be Afghanistan’s president. (Washington Post)

This article originally appeared on Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog, June 12, 2016, and reposted with permission.