Early Sunday morning a radical Islamic terrorist opened fire on a popular gay nightclub in Orlando. 49 people were killed making this the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and the second most deadly terrorist attack in American history following 9/11. The shooter is being called a “lone wolf” attacker. However, recent developments, including a series of supportive tweets from ISIS supporters that came less than one hour after the attack, lead officials to believe that this “lone wolf” gunman was working with ISIS on a coordinated attack.
The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was originally believed to be working alone. However, several tweets and social media postings that followed the attack show that Mateen was not working alone and was affiliated with ISIS. It has been revealed that Mateen called 911 during the attack to pledge allegiance to the terrorist organization. Mateen also made reference to the Boston bombers during that call, according to American officials. This public declaration of allegiance to ISIS is one of very few requirements that ISIS imposes on anyone wishing to carry out an attack in their name.
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a spokesperson for ISIS, incited supporters to carry out killings during the holy month of Ramadan in a statement made last month. Many believe Mateen was following Al-Adnani’s request. Al-Adani called ISIS supporters to action by stating:
“The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us, and more effective and more damaging to them.”
Following the attack on Sunday ISIS’ official news agency issued a bulletin quoting an alleged “source” that confirmed Mateen was acting on behalf of the terrorist organization. The bulletin described Mateen as “a soldier of the Caliphate in America” and claimed he was a homegrown affiliate of the group. Fellow Jihadists then flooded social media showing support for Mateen and claiming responsibility for his radicalization. Anti-gay supporters used the hashtag “#Pulse” to mock victims and show their support for Mateen.
Several of these supportive tweets can be seen below.
— ✨Sophia✨ (@surfermom77) June 12, 2016
— Jean-Charles Brisard (@JcBrisard) June 12, 2016
At this point the depth of ISIS’ involvement the attack is still being investigated. U.S. officials are investigating to determine whether the terrorist organization had a direct hand in organizing the attack or are simply claiming credit for the crime against humanity. It is clear that Mateen was influenced by ISIS but the strength of his ties to the organization is still being determined.