Terrorism Lessons Not Learned

Five years since Omar Mateen massacred 49 in Orlando, Florida
June 11, 2021 Updated: June 11, 2021

Commentary

Five years ago, on June 12, 2016, Islamic State supporter Omar Mateen murdered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. As CNN reported, the mass shooting, then the deadliest in U.S. history, was “the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11.” Like 9/11, the attack could have been prevented but wasn’t.

The FBI had interviewed Mateen in 2013 and 2014 but he “was not found to be a threat,” and at the time of the attack, he was not under investigation. In April 2016, Walt Disney World told the FBI that Mateen and his wife Noor Salman appeared to be surveilling possible targets where large numbers of people were known to gather. Salman was also with Mateen when he purchased firearms and ammunition.

President Barack Obama said “this community was shaken by an evil and hateful act,” but his 1855-word statement did not identify the shooter and named not a single one of Mateen’s victims. Such terrorist attacks were carried out “not by external plotters, not by vast networks or sophisticated cells, but by deranged individuals warped by the hateful propaganda that they had seen over the Internet,” Obama stated.

Mateen’s victims included African Americans Antonio Davon Brown, 29; Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25; and Jason Benjamin Josaphat, only 19. The President’s statement contained no reference to racism on the part of Mateen but did lament “the plague of violence that these weapons of war inflict on so many young lives.”

Vice President Joe Biden, in a 337-word statement, denounced “an act of pure hate and unspeakable terror,” but did not name the shooter or any of his victims. Biden was uncertain of “any connection or inspiration there may be with terrorist organizations,” and did not mention the Islamic State. The violence was “not normal” and “the targeting of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans is evil and abhorrent.” Biden also failed to link Mateen’s attack with racism.

“The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” said presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Like Obama and Biden, Clinton denounced “assault weapons” and “weapons of war,” implying that they act independently.

Epoch Times Photo
The Pulse nightclub where Omar Mateen killed 49 people in Orlando, Fla., on June 13, 2016. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Clinton, Biden, and Obama did not link the attack to radical Islamic terrorism, an evasion also on display in the response to Nidal Hasan’s mass murder of American soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2009.

The self-described “Soldier of Allah” yelled “Allahu akbar” as he gunned down 13 American soldiers and wounded more than 30 others. Obama failed to call the attack terrorism or even gun violence. It was only “workplace violence.” The victims included African Americans but the President did not accuse Hasan of racism and in 2014, the President declined to meet with Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who took seven bullets from the Muslim.

For Biden, the terrorist mass murder at Ford Hood was a “senseless tragedy” and the Delaware Democrat hailed “the brave soldiers who fell.” No word of how the soldiers “fell,” nor any hint that the terrorist mass murder could easily have been prevented.

As “Lessons From Fort Hood” explains, Hasan’s radical Islam was on full display during his training at Walter Reed Medical Center. The FBI was aware of Hasan’s communications with al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki about killing Americans. The Washington office of the FBI called off the surveillance and took no action against Hasan. The mass murderer was sentenced to death in 2013, but remains in prison at Fort Leavenworth.

In Orlando in 2016, police killed Omar Mateen and quickly learned that Noor Salman had aided the terrorist. On Jan. 16, 2017, the FBI charged Salman with providing material support to a terrorist and obstruction of justice. Salman admitted lying to the FBI but was acquitted in 2018—another painful episode for friends and families of the murder victims.

Five years after Orlando, President Joe Biden decries “assault weapons” more than violent crime and terrorism. Biden has opened up the southern border and thousands of people are streaming in from countries all over the world. Immigration officials have little clue of their true identity and intentions.

On Biden’s watch, if Islamic jihadists murdered 49 people, including African Americans, they would not be called racists. This administration will ignore their true motives and blame “weapons of war” or mental illness. And the victims will be quickly forgotten.

Rifles and handguns do not act independently. People gunned down by terrorists do not simply “fall.” They should be recognized by name. Whenever possible, it is better to prevent terrorist attacks before they take place.

American officials had many opportunities to stop the 9/11 terrorists but failed to take action. Following that attack, which claimed nearly 3,000 victims, foreign suspects were housed at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The remaining prisoners include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attack.

According to White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Biden’s “goal and intention” is to shut the Guantanamo facility. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is coming up in September, and the death toll from the terrorist attack is still rising. Embattled Americans have plenty to ponder.

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of “Yes I Con: United Fakes of America,” “Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation,” “Hollywood Party,” and other books. His articles have appeared in many publications, including Frontpage Magazine, City Journal, The Wall Street Journal, and American Greatness. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.