Omar Mateen (1986-2016), an American security guard, carried out the deadliest mass murder on US soil since 9/11, killing at least 49 people and injuring 53 others. This was on June 12th 2016 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, not far from Disney World. Most of those killed were Latino.
Mateen entered the nightclub at two in the morning when security was loose. There were 300 people there. He had an assault rifle (AR-15, pictured) and a handgun. He opened fire and just kept shooting, stopping only to reload. When the police arrived, he took at least 30 hostages. The stand-off lasted till five in the morning when he was killed in a shoot-out with police.
There was blood everywhere – and bodies with ringing mobile phones.
The US press and politicians were quick to call it terrorism and blame ISIS.
ISIS has claimed Mateen as one of their fighters, but did not claim credit for the massacre itself. So far there is no proof they directed it. ISIS did, however, call for acts of terror during Ramadan, a holy month of fasting which this year runs from about June 6th to July 5th. June is also Gay Pride Month in the US.
The FBI has looked into Mateen’s possible ties to terrorists three times before but found nothing: in 2013 with Hezbollah and al-Qaeda and in 2014 with al-Nusra. He said he belonged to Hezbollah, an enemy of ISIS, but it just seemed to be big talk.
Mateen called police right before the shooting and said something about ISIS – and something about the Tsarnaev brothers, supporters of al-Nusra, also an enemy of ISIS.
Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said when they were married in 2009 he did not seem to have any ties to terrorists, but did want to be a police officer. Even back then he hated gays. He was also violent, beating her for little reason. She said he is sick in the head.
Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, also said he hated gays. He said it had nothing to do with religion. His father, by the way, ran for president of Afghanistan in 2015. He has been at the US State Department. Mateen’s parents are from Afghanistan, but Mateen himself was born in the US, in New York City.
According to Pew Research, US Muslims are not any more likely to be homophobic than Americans of other religions.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), says the Orlando Massacre was mainly home-grown homophobia:
“There were over 100 anti-LGBT laws rulings passed this last year and that creates an environment of hate, which leads to discrimination and that turns to violence. This is a cycle we are seeing.”
In fact, that same day James Howell was arrested when he was on his way to shoot up a gay pride parade in West Hollywood, California. He did not have a Muslim-sounding name or suspected ties to terrorists. But he did have three assault rifles.
Assault rifles were banned in the US from 1994 to 2004.
– Abagond, 2016.
- American massacres
- Disney World