Does It Matter if Orlando Jihadist Was a ‘Member’ of ISIS?

Islamic State flag

In the wake of the horrific terror in Orlando, it’s inevitable that debate will rage on any manner of things. In this case, Omar Mateen brutally murdered 49 people and injured 53 others in a gay nightclub while calling police and announcing his support for ISIS.


We’ve seen one left-wing writer storm off live TV in anger over what words were used to describe the jihad attack — as if “jihad attack” somehow didn’t appropriately cover the attacker’s “homophobia.”

Now, one apparently important aspect of the debate is whether Mateen was really part of ISIS. Does it matter?

The Times of India ran this return to sanity by Rukmini Callimachil, who wisely argues that the talking heads are, as usual, missing the big picture:

The attacker, Omar Mateen, told a 911 operator that he was pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. That pledge is a central part of the ISIS protocol. The Orlando killing was the third time the loyalty pledge was known to be invoked in the United States.

In December, when a couple in San Bernardino, California, left their home armed with assault rifles, they made sure to post their oath of allegiance on Facebook, where law enforcement agents later found it. And just minutes before he opened fire on a cartoon exhibit featuring images of the Prophet Muhammad in Texas in May 2015, Elton Simpson sent out a series of Twitter messages making clear where his allegiances lay.

This public oath is about the only requirement that the Islamic State imposes on followers who wish to carry out acts of terror in its name. In an annual speech last month, the terror group’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, incited its supporters to carry out killings abroad during the holy month of Ramadan.

No attack is too small, he advised, specifically naming the United States as a target. “The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us,” he said, “and more effective and more damaging to them.”


The reality is that the debate over whether Mateen was truly ISIS or not distracts us from the obvious-to-non-intellectuals reality: Mateen was a Muslim jihadist who decided to kill people Muslim jihadists believe must be killed.

ISIS has made it incredibly easy to justify these acts as being in their name, and they did it by design. The FBI and CIA can’t stop a terrorist attack they don’t know about; ISIS knows these “independent” attacks are easy to keep off of their radar. If you don’t actively communicate with others about your plans, it’s much harder to preemptively foil your plans.

While America needs to figure out how to stop these attacks, our media “analysts” are bickering over how to document them.


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