The hot new meme about Orlando jihadi Omar Mateen is that he became “self-radicalized.”
This would seem like a difficult meme to sustain in light of the evidence that he was an energetic consumer of Islamic State murder porn and the speeches of al-Qaeda guru Anwar al-Awlaki, not to mention sharia legal codes written centuries ago. But apparently “self-radicalized” means “didn’t attend coffee-and-donuts seminars with ISIS motivational speakers in person.”
For example, here’s the Reuters report from Tuesday:
Federal investigators have said Mateen was likely self-radicalized and there is no evidence that he received any instruction or aid from outside groups such as Islamic State. Mateen, 29, was a U.S. citizen, born in New York of Afghan immigrant parents.
“He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized,” President Barack Obama told reporters after a meeting of the National Security Council.
One official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said investigators are only beginning to delve into the contents of Mateen’s cellphone and other electronic devices. The source said they believe Mateen browsed militant Islamic material on the internet for two years or more before the Orlando shootings.
Later in the article, we get this knee-slapper from an anonymous “U.S. official”:
Two U.S. officials, both of whom have been briefed regularly on the investigation and requested anonymity to discuss it, said that if it emerged that Mateen led a secret double life or had gay impulses that conflicted with his religious beliefs, it might have been a factor in explaining his motive.
“It’s far too early to be definitive, and some leads inevitably don’t pan out, but we have to consider at least the possibility that he might have sought martyrdom partly to gain absolution for what he believed were his grave sins,” one of the officials said.
The official noted that the concept of martyrdom is not confined to Islam, as Christians also venerate martyrs who died for their beliefs.
Does anyone in the Obama Administration see a crucial difference between the Christian concept of “martyrdom” and what Omar Mateen did? If so, better keep it to yourself, unless you want your career cut short.
Later still in the Reuters piece, we’re told a bit more about this mysterious bolt-from-the-blue “self-radicalization” process:
During his rampage, Mateen made a series of calls to emergency 911 dispatchers in which he pledged loyalty to the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose organization controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria.
He also claimed solidarity in those calls with the ethnic Chechen brothers who carried out the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and with a Palestinian-American who became a suicide bomber in Syria for the al Qaeda offshoot known as the Nusra Front, authorities said.
Apparently our crackerjack “federal officials” decided not to take Mateen seriously, because “Islamic State and the Nusra Front are at odds in Syria’s civil war, while al Qaeda and Hezbollah are also bitter enemies,” and he expressed sympathies or claimed ties with all of them.
This is the latest iteration of the dangerously stupid conceit, beloved of “federal officials,” that Sunni and Shiite Muslims will never cooperate against a common non-Islamic enemy, because they hate each other too much. That seems like a difficult belief to maintain while simultaneously insisting that Islam is a “religion of peace,” but there you have it.
Did it occur to any of these federal officials that ISIS and the Nusra Front might have both reached out to Mateen without realizing that he was in communication with the other? Maybe he was fantasizing about having “ties” to these groups, but treating it as impossible is foolish.
Also, if there is one thing we have learned about these jihadi groups, it is not difficult to communicate with their representatives – or at least people claiming to be their representatives – online. Calling Mateen “self-radicalized” sounds suspiciously like a bit of posterior-covering to let officials off the hook for failing to assess his threat potential correctly, despite finding him suspicious enough to interview on multiple occasions.
Over at CNN, FBI Director James Comey repeats the “self-radicalized” diagnosis, followed by an official saying that “analysis of Mateen’s electronic devices showed searches for jihadist propaganda, including videos of ISIS beheading videos and of Anwar al-Awlaki — an influential American-born imam who worked as a spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was killed in 2011.”
“He consumed a hell of a lot of jihadist propaganda,” this official declared.
Comey also downplayed the connections between Mateen and “a Florida man who’d blown himself up in Syria in support of the Nusra Front.” The two knew each other, but Comey declared their ties were not of “any consequence.”
There is also the question of what role the killer’s father, Siddique Mateen, might have played in his “self-radicalization.” Mateen is a Taliban supporter who worked as “director and vice president” of his son’s mosque, which has been described as a “breeding ground” for jihadists.
And yet, the Administration rushes out to proclaim Mateen “self-radicalized” – or, as President Obama put it, “an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized” – as though his transformation into jihadi killer was a natural disaster, akin to being hit by a tornado.