The investigation into the Orlando attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has just begun. Yet President Obama announced even at this early stage that it was a terrorist attack.
“We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans we are united in grief.”
Obama went on to describe the efforts undertaken to investigate the terror attack, saying that the FBI is on the scene working with local police to determine the killer’s motivations, his contacts with terror groups if any, and what led up to the attack. The president offered all federal resources necessary for the investigation and to help the people of Orlando cope with the aftermath of the terror attack.
In other reports, police were said to have stormed the nightclub when they had been made aware that a number of people were being held hostage by the terrorist. A gunfight ensued and police killed the terrorist, who has since been identified as Omar Siddiqui Matteen, an American born to immigrants from Afghanistan.
The Orlando terror attack could have been much worse, according to President Obama. He praised the first responders for their bravery and credits them with having saved lives.
“These are the kinds of sacrifices that our law enforcement officers make every single day for all of us and we can never thank them enough.”
Obama was adamant that an attack on any American “is an attack on all of us.” He made it clear that Americans must decide if they want to remain a country in which it is relatively easy to purchase weapons.
“No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans… This massacre is, therefore, a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.”
Then President Obama turned to the victims of the Orlando terror attack. Currently, reports mention 50 dead and 53 injured. The president talked about coming to know about the victims in the near future.
“We’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy, the names, the faces, who they were, the joy they brought to families and to friends.”
Not everyone is impressed with Obama’s speech to the nation.
Obama's about to make the same speech he's made about guns 20 times in his presidency.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 12, 2016
Just more pointless rhetoric, sadly. #Orlando
Some are using the Orlando terror attack as an opportunity to make political statements.
On the other hand, the terror attack in Orlando is bringing out expressions of solidarity and grief from around the United States and the world.
PM Netanyahu following mass shooting attack in #Orlando: Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with the United States in this tragic time.— Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) June 12, 2016
It's a traumatizing & emotional time for a many people. I dream of the world reflecting on what we can do to change this violence. #Orlando— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) June 12, 2016
Not everyone, however, is expressing sympathy and grief. Just as happened after 9/11, there are those who are celebrating the deaths of the victims of the Orlando attack.
Some are tweeting that there is no room for apologetics regarding the Orlando terror attack. They believe it should be called an Islamic act of terror.
Others claim that President Obama does not understand the enemy.
Obama's refusal to name Islamism suggests he doesn't understand the adversary, which is why his antiterror strategy fails. #Orlando— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) June 12, 2016
ISIS has taken credit for the Orlando terror attack, claiming that the terrorist was an Islamic State fighter. It is unknown yet whether or not that means that ISIS was directly involved in training him or providing his weapons or any other logistic support.
The Orlando terrorist was on a terror watch list however, and the FBI was supposedly keeping track of him. According to NBC News, Mateen called 911 just before he carried out his massacre. On this call, he pledged allegiance to ISIS.
There are questions that will have to be answered: how did Mateen succeed in his massacre even though he was on the FBI terror watch list? How can one explain that his call to 911 before the attack did not galvanize a police response? How was he able to kill 50 people and wound over 50 more in such a short time? The Orlando terror attack may be a serious blight on American intelligence and security agency preparedness and functioning. The American people will want answers.
[Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]