Orlando and Willful Blindness at The New York Times
The New York Times has an interesting profile of Omar Mateen, the Orlando terrorist who murdered 49 people and wounded more than 50 others at a gay nightclub over the weekend. In the main, the Gray Lady grapples with the profound challenge the FBI faces in striking the balance between investigating ambiguous signs of potential terrorist inclinations and clearing suspects (or “persons of interest,” as they say in the biz) as to whom the evidence seems weak.
It will take some time to draw firm conclusions about Mateen’s case. Still, FBI Director Jim Comey has been admirably open in explaining that while agents appear to have (twice) probed Mateen responsibly, the Bureau must keep exploring whether clues were missed and more could have been done.
That aside, there are two major flaws in the Times’ account, and quite possibly in the government’s self-examination of its performance.
These errors illuminate Washington’s quarter-century of consciously avoiding the proximate cause of jihadist terror: sharia-supremacist ideology.
Our opinion elites resist acknowledging this because it is drawn literally from Islamic scripture.
Drawing on an interview with Mateen’s ex-wife and on aspects of Mateen’s behavior that have been uncovered so far -- e.g., frequenting gay bars, possibly using a gay dating app -- the Times reasonably speculates that Mateen may have been gay and deeply conflicted about “his true identity out of anger and shame.”
The paper, however, steadfastly avoids asking: What could have caused such wrenching self-loathing?
After all, if he was gay, Mateen would hardly have been the first person to experience great anguish over his sexual preference, despite the fact that American culture has dramatically normalized homosexuality. Yet, those people manage to control their psychological turmoil and depression without walking into a gay club and committing mass-murder.
Assuming that the “he was gay” angle pans out, what could cause such deep conflict in Mateen that he would carry out such an atrocity?
Part of the explanation -- probably the explanation -- has to be sharia supremacism.
The Times account includes some indicators that Mateen, despite his “Americanization,” leaned toward Islamic fundamentalism: his Afghan roots, his two pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia, his apparently inflated claims of acquaintance with terrorists, his sometimes discriminatory and cruel treatment of his ex-wife. We now know, moreover, that Mateen came onto the FBI’s radar screen because he was acquainted with and attended the same mosque (the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida) as Mohammed Abu Salha, an American fundamentalist of Palestinian descent. Salha, who had been trained by al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al-Nusra, ultimately returned to Syria and died carrying out a jihadist attack.
Yet the Times omits the possibility, reported by Fox News, that Mateen also enrolled in an online radical indoctrination course: the Islamic “seminary” run by Marcus Robertson (aka Abu Taubah), whose jihadist roots trace back to the early 1990s.
Robertson’s lectures are said to have been extremely hostile to homosexuals. In conjunction with other facts that have been developed, the “seminary” connection suggests that in recent years Mateen had immersed himself in sharia supremacism.
That is significant because of a point I stressed over the weekend -- a point the Times ignores: For over a millennium, classical sharia has endorsed the condemnation and brutal killing of homosexuals.
The Times and the Obama administration have gone to great lengths to nail down whether there was a Mateen tie to ISIS: Was he merely “inspired” by the jihadist organization with which he expressed solidarity even as he carried out his attack? Or was there -- as seems highly unlikely -- some more formal, operational relationship between Mateen and ISIS?
I do not mean to suggest that this is an irrelevant question. But it does miss a key point that Washington and the media always resist exploring: The persecution of gay people is not an ISIS thing or an al-Qaeda thing; it is an Islam thing.
More specifically, it is a bedrock of sharia law and has been since long, long before there was an ISIS.
If Mateen was deeply conflicted over his alleged homosexual leanings, it had to be because they cut so deeply against the grain of his adherence to sharia supremacism. That ideology, not “inspiration by ISIS” (or by other jihadists Mateen invoked, like the Boston Marathon bombers), is far more likely the root of Mateen’s inner rage.