President Obama Says Orlando Gunman Was Radicalized Online but 'There Is No Evidence So Far That He Was Directed' By ISIS
President Obama said Monday it appears the gunman "was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet"
brightcove.createExperiences(); While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Orlando nightclub shootings, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the investigation into the shooter’s background is still ongoing.
“With respect to the killer, there’s been a lot of reporting that’s been done. It’s important to emphasize that we’re still at the preliminary stages of the investigation, and there’s a lot more that we have to learn,” President Barack Obama said Monday during a briefing. “The one thing that we can say is that this is being treated as a terrorist investigation.”
The president went on to say that it appears that gunman Omar Mateen “was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet.”
“All those materials are currently being searched, exploited so we will have a better sense of the pathway that the killer took in making the decision to launch this attack,” President Obama continued.
According to the president, there is no clear evidence as of yet that the gunman was directed externally.
“It does appear that, at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL [also known as ISIS], but there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL,” said President Obama. “And there also at this stage is no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot. In that sense, it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don’t yet know.”
President Obama said this appears to be “an example of some kind of homegrown extremism.”
In regards to the weapons the gunman used, President Obama said “it appears that he was able to obtain these weapons legally because he did not have a criminal record that, in some ways, would prohibit him from purchasing these weapons.”
“It does indicate the degree to which it was not difficult for him to obtain these kinds of weapons,” he added.
President Obama went on to address the importance of going after the propaganda arm of ISIS and its Internet presence.
“One of the biggest challenges we are going to have is this kind of propaganda and perversions of Islam that you see generated on the Internet, and the capacity for that to seep into the minds of troubled individuals or weak individuals, and seeing them motivated then to take actions against people here in the United States and elsewhere in the world that are tragic,” said the president.
The president also addressed the issue of gun control, noting that the attack underscored “the risks we are willing to take by being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms available to people in this country.”
“My concern is that we start getting into a debate, as has happened in the past, which is an either/or debate,” he continued. “And the suggestion is either we think about something as terrorism and we ignore the problems with easy access to firearms, or it’s all about firearms and we ignore the role – the very real role that that organizations like ISIL have in generating extremist views inside this country. And it’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and.”
President Obama maintained the importance of going after terrorist organizations, saying we must “hit them hard.”
“We have to counter extremism. But we also have to make sure that it is not easy for somebody who decides they want to harm people in this country to be able to obtain weapons to get at them,” he said.
The president also offered his condolences to the victims of the shooting and their families.
“Our hearts go out to the families of those who have been killed,” he said. “Our prayers go to those who have been wounded. This is a devastating attack on all Americans.”
“The fact that it took place at a club frequented by the LGBT community I think is also relevant,” he continued. “We’re still looking at all the motivations of the killer. But it’s a reminder that regardless of race, religion, faith or sexual orientation, we’re all Americans, and we need to be looking after each other and protecting each other at all times in the face of this kind of terrible act.”