ISIS, Political Motives Ruled Out as Las Vegas Shooter 'Found Religious People to be Ridiculous'
After months of ISIS insisting that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was their disciple and operative, the final investigative report on the worst mass shooting in American history shut the door on religious or political motives.
Paddock, 64, "found religious people to be ridiculous," states the 187-page Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department report's summary of a family interview.
Fifty-eight people were killed and 869 were wounded -- 413 of those suffered gunshot or shrapnel wounds -- when Paddock opened fire Oct. 1 on a country music festival from his sniper's perch in a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. An autopsy determined the cause of Paddock's death to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound through his mouth and into his head; kleenex was found in the shooter's ears.
"While en route to the scene, many investigators heard multiple, chaotic emergency-only radio calls coming out in reference to active shooters at different properties along the Las Vegas Strip, fires breaking out at certain properties, actual shooters that were inside the Las Vegas Village venue at the time of the shooting. Early reporting from national news outlets reported that ISIS was claiming responsibility for the shooting," the report states. "The investigation revealed none of this information was accurate."
Official ISIS media persisted for a few months in claiming responsibility for the massacre. ISIS featured an update on the shooting investigation in a mid-October issue of their al-Naba newsletter, referring to Paddock both by that name and the nom de guerre Abu Abdul Bar al-Amriki, which they bestowed upon the killer the day after the attack.
Much of that update focused on how Las Vegas authorities were unprepared for the nature of the attack. "This highlights the difficulties faced by U.S. cities to protect their own Crusader citizens from attacks that can take unpredictable forms," the newsletter said, emphasizing Paddock's elevated firing position.
In an earlier issue of al-Naba, ISIS printed a full-page infographic on the shooting with a Mandalay Bay hotel covered in blood, claiming that Paddock had converted to Islam six months before.
Quickly after the massacre in which Paddock killed 58 people, ISIS claimed through their Amaq news agency that the "Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting coalition countries." ISIS' official Nashir channel and affiliated al-Batar Media Foundation also insisted Paddock acted on behalf of the terror group.
Mentions of the mass shooting eventually shifted more to jihadists using Paddock's actions as an inspiration.
In January, the Wafa' Media Foundation, an ISIS-supporting media group, threatened another Vegas-style massacre in a propaganda image, yet showed crosshairs and flames positioned over the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
In February, Muharar al-Ansar distributed a "kill them all" poster encouraging a mass shooting in the style of the Oct. 1 massacre. With the shadow of the Mandalay Bay in the background, the poster called an AR-15 the "weapon of choice" with a target of "festivals and large gatherings."