There is an “Islamic element” to the kind of terrorism that led to the mass murder of 49 people at an Orlando gay bar over the weekend, according to former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).
Frank, one of the first members of Congress to come out openly as gay, told The New York Times in an interview shortly after the Orlando terrorist attack that the central issue is hatred from a sect of Islam as well as the accessibility of assault rifles.
“There is an Islamic element here,” Frank told The Times. “Yes, the overwhelming majority of Muslims don’t do this, but there is clearly, sadly, an element in the interpretation of Islam that has some currency, some interpretation in the Middle East that encourages killing people — and L.G.B.T. people are on that list.”
He added that be things “it is fair to ask leaders of the Islamic community, religious and otherwise, to spend some time combatting this.’’
On the point, that there is a specifically Islamic tenor to the Orlando attack, Frank called for surveillance, saying the attack “reinforces the case for significant surveillance by law enforcement of people who have given some indication of adoption of these angry Islamic hate views.”
The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, had been on a terror watchlist and questioned by the FBI at least three times. According to Frank, law enforcement should have continued to keep an eye on him.
“If they had continued to surveil him, that would have led to some A.C.L.U. criticism – and they would have been wrong,” he said. “I wish they had surveilled him more, not less.”
Overall, Frank told The Times, the Orlando shooting is not indicative of a larger societal threat to the gay community but more reflective of the hared within group.
“It’s an attack against gay people but it does not reflect a general deterioration of our standing in America,” he said. “It reflects the virulence of the hatred in this sector of Islam.”