Was the Orlando Gunman Really a Lone Wolf?

A shooting by a lone Muslim gunman at an Orlando gay nightclub, which has left at least 50 people dead and dozens more injured, has been called an “act of terrorism” by law enforcement agencies.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, opened fire on hundreds of people at Pulse nightclub, then took hostages until police crashed an armored vehicle into the building and killed him in a gunfight. Mateen was a U.S.-born citizen, whose parents were born in Afghanistan. According to law enforcement officials, Mateen had been “on the radar” of U.S. officials for some time.

The FBI says it is looking at all angles to find a motive. “We do have suggestions that that individual may have leanings towards that particular ideology [Islamic extremism]. But right now we can’t say definitively, so we’re still running everything around,” said Ron Hopper, FBI assistant agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa division.

The immediate reaction from many news pundits has been to downplay any possible connections to radical Islamism. As often happens after these terrorist attacks, including those in Paris and San Bernardino, pundits and politicians are quick to point out that a “lone wolf” doesn’t necessarily get direct orders from ISIS. They focus on the “hate crime” angle or the need for gun control instead of putting the attack in the context of a global jihad.

Just this morning on Fox News Sunday, columnist George Will, indignant of any suggestion at this time that the attack was motivated by Islamic extremism, said the idea of international terrorists giving Mateen directives to shoot up a gay nightclub was preposterous.

Will, like so many others, are simply perpetuating ignorance when it comes to how lone wolves operate. As has been outlined by the Institute for the Study of War, ISIS has a global strategy to carry out attacks against infidels, and lone wolves are essential to that strategy.

This was made clear in 2014 when the chief spokesman for the Islamic State called on supporters throughout the world to act on their own initiative to attack Western targets.

As reported by McClatchy DC in June 2014, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani “vowed that the group would kill Western men and enslave their women even as he accused the Western news media of distortion by inaccurately portraying the group as violent.”

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be,” Adnani said, according to an English translation posted online by al Furqan Media, the communications arm of the Islamic State.

“Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict,” he said. “Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling.”

A similar directive was later given to women throughout the world. As I reported at The Federalist after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, guidelines had been released by Islamic State leaders, saying they “can fight without the permission of others.”

Counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka has pointed out repeatedly that there is really no such thing as a lone wolf—that they’re actually “known wolves.”

It’s time to “ditch” the “lone wolf” label, Gorka told Fox News, because it obscures the ideology that ties all independent American jihadists together.

“This is a global network of jihadi activists,” Dr. Gorka explained, noting that the “lone wolf” label– applied to a number of Islamist shooters, from Fort Hood’s Nidal Hasan to Chattanooga’s Mohammad Abdulazeez–“is designed to make us think these are sporadic, disconnected individuals– they’re not.” The label “is designed to disconnect the dots,” he explains, as many of these individuals are watching similar, if not identical, Islamist propaganda online. In reality, “They are all connected by the ideology, by the stuff they consume on the internet,” Dr. Gorka explained.

Gorka said the State Department has failed to crack down on Islamist propaganda online—where many American Muslims are recruited—because they ignore that this is about an ideology: radical Islam. We aren’t fighting “extremism” or “terrorism,” Gorka has said. We are fighting people who hold to a particular ideology, which means supporters of the Islamic State don’t need direct orders every time an attack is made against Western targets—civilian or military.

The attack on a gay nightclub is in complete alignment with the ideology of radical Islam. Homosexuality is illegal according to Sharia Law and is punishable by death. Men who have fled the Middle East testify to this fact and have spoken to the United Nations Security Council about the horror of being gay in the Islamic State.

“In my society, being gay means death,” said one Iraqi man, hiding his identity out of fear for his safety.

Another man, Subhi Nahas, said he watched as a group linked to al-Qaeda took control of his hometown of Idlib and systematically tortured and murdered of men who were thought to be gay.

“I was terrified to go out,” he said. “Nor was my home safe, as my father, who suspiciously monitored my every move, had learned I was gay. I bear a scar on my chin as a token of his rage. At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as at a wedding. If a victim did not die after being hurled off a building, the townspeople stoned him to death.”

Given that the Islamic State has already given directives for global jihad, and that supporters are motivated by a shared ideology, it makes logical sense that a “known wolf,” as we seem to have in Orlando, would target a gay nightclub, killing 50 souls who were doing nothing but minding their own business with friends and loved ones. (For more from the author of “Was the Orlando Gunman Really a Lone Wolf?” please click HERE)

Follow Joe Miller on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE.