ISIS Praises Mateen as 'Lion of Caliphate,' Urges Attacks at Theaters, Hospitals, Amusement Parks
An ISIS-affiliated media group issued new statements today praising Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen as a "lion of the caliphate" and a "hero" for slaughtering 49 "infidels" -- and calling on other lone jihadis to follow his example.
The Obama administration has confirmed that Mateen was consuming ISIS propaganda online before he opened fire at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning and called 911 to swear fidelity to ISIS.
"As we know all too well, terrorist groups like ISIL have called on people around the world and here in the United States to attack innocent civilians. Their propaganda, their videos, their postings are pervasive and more easily accessible than we want," President Obama said after a National Security Council meeting in Washington this morning. "This individual appears to have absorbed some of that and during his killing spree, the shooter in Orlando pledged allegiance to ISIL."
"An attacker, as we saw in Orlando, only has to succeed once," the president added.
The Al-Battar Media Foundation, which previously posted an ISIS claim for the November attack on a Jordanian police training facility in which two Americans were among the dead and released a March video celebrating the Brussels attacks while urging more attacks in Europe, released a few separate statements on Orlando a few hours after Obama spoke. Al-Battar is reportedly the media operation of elite ISIS Libyan unit Kalibat al-Battar al-Libi, which is led by a Tunisian terrorist who may at one point have been held by the U.S.
The first statement today featured a selfie of Mateen, who was credited with killing "gay crusader infidels in the city of Orlando, America" and putting "horror, fear and heartbreak" in "the hearts of the infidels" during the "great blessed battle successfully carried out by one Muslim man."
The statement goes on to slam "hypocrites in whose heart is a disease" and "fear of infidel Trump winning the presidency."
"The sincere believer is not afraid of the head of infidel America, but is struggling as the almighty Allah commanded him, and waits for the victory of Allah... the blessed battle has made the infidels [feel] horror and fear and panic."
It asked that Allah bless "Brother Mujahid Omar."
The statement released half an hour later praised Allah for making the United States "humiliated" and a "laughingstock among nations" during Ramadan -- "month of the invasion and jihad, the month of conquests." ISIS has previously called for a "month of conquest" during the Islamic holy month that ends July 5.
"While the tyrants shut the immigration door in your faces, open in their faces the door of jihad," the statement adds.
It stressed the value of homegrown jihad and fighting "the crusaders day and night" so that "even neighbor is afraid of his neighbor."
"While one of you wishes and strives to reach the Islamic State, one of us wishes to be in your place."
It adds that, as Mateen shot up the nightclub, lone jihadists shouldn't "shy away from targeting the so-called civilians... the so-called innocent people."
"Hero" Mateen "responded to the call of jihad... to send the message that we are all ticking time bombs and may explode anytime and anywhere," the Al-Battar statement said, highlighting the latter part in red. "The battle, America, is no longer in the land of the Muslims alone, but in your land."
Future lone jihadis are encouraged to "select a target accordingly" as Mateen did for "great global impact," calling the LGBT nightclub "a very smart choice."
The statement specifically suggests targeting movie theaters, hospitals, airports, trains, amusement parks and restaurants. Orlando station WFTV reported that Mateen may have cased Disney Springs -- a dining and entertainment complex at Disney World -- in April and was traced to the center by a cell phone ping just hours before the Pulse nightclub attack.
Al-Battar also encourages jihadis to diversify with poisons and gases. "You are in a great jihad; jihad is greater than our brothers in Syria and Iraq."
Yet another statement released by Al-Battar praised Mateen as a "gallant knight" who after being "immersed in the infidels, the descendants of the sodomites... rubbed the nose of America in the dirt." It also encourages Muslims to "get out of your home, select your goal from the sons of the cross... and kill."