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Few Warning Signs of Radicalization?

I just read the following NPR piece titled “Orlando Shooter Update: Few Warning Signs Point to Radicalization.”

This is stunning. “Few Warning Signs” of radicalization?

According to reports from his past coworkers and school-mates:

1. He was sent home in high school for celebrating the 9/11 attacks.
2. He grew up under the influence of a father that was a supporter of the Taliban.
3. In 2007 he became so unhinged at a party when a piece of pork touched his hamburger that he threatened to kill everyone.
4. In 2010 he declared his desire to become a martyr.
5. In 2013 he was investigated by the FBI for his extremist rhetoric.
6. In 2014 he was again investigated by the FBI for his ties to an extremist he knew from his mosque that had joined the Islamic State.

7. He got his kicks from watching Islamic State beheading videos and later telling his coworkers about them.

8. He declared his support for the Islamic State during the attacks, declaring it revenge for bombing “his country” (by this he meant Afghanistan) and said true Muslims would never accept “the filthy ways of the west” before shooting over 100 people at a gay bar, killing 49 of them.

[Update: In addition, in 2014 Mateen also became a devotee of the radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, whose lectures had inspired other radicals to commit acts of terrorism.]

In light of such a past, it hardly seems surprising that he declared his support and allegiance to the Islamic State as he carried out his slaughter. What surprises me is the effort to pretend all of this is not somehow related to his actions in Orlando. Other factors such as mental health, homophobia, etc… most likely played a part in this, but to deny also the radicalization aspect in this seems itself a form of denial. It is also a dangerous one, particularly if it means we refuse to factor in or downplay the threat of the global jihadist movement (led by the Islamic State) and its massive online propaganda machine (which has demonstrated its effectiveness in motivating others on many occasions). Indeed, Mateen, is precisely the type of person they hope to target with their efforts, even if they never have direct contact. Today the DOJ even released only partial transcripts of the killer’s conversations with the police during the massacre, scrubbing the killer’s extremist views and omitting his pledged allegiance to the Islamic State [Edit: See addendum].

What else did Mateen need to add to his resume to be considered as having shown “warning signs” of radicalization?

He seems to have checked every box.

He even called the police and posted on Facebook to make his motivations and intentions as clear as possible, after a long history of personal connections with extremism, yet we refuse to believe him.

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Addendum: The DOJ reversed its decision and has released a full transcript.

From the article: “the Justice Department on Monday afternoon reversed itself and released a full, unredacted transcript of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 call on the night of the massacre, calling the morning’s furor over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction.”

An earlier version of the transcript had deleted the word “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to Islamic State’s leader at 2:35 a.m. The call came just over a half hour into the June 12 slaughter at gay nightclub Pulse.

“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen says on the new transcript.

The old version had several words scrubbed and read: “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”

 

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