Early last Sunday morning, a gunman wielded an assault-type rifle and a handgun, took hostages and opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, reportedly shouting “Allah el Akbar” during the shooting! This apparent jihad-inspired rampage ended with 49 dead (revised downward from 50 to exclude the murderer Omar Mateen) and over 50 injured. This gay-club massacre is said to be the worst mass-murder in U.S. history.
There were confusing reports late Monday that the 29-year-old U.S. citizen of Afghan descent from Port St. Lucie, Florida may also have had gay involvement, including using a gay dating app and frequenting the gay-oriented Pulse Nightclub in Orlando a dozen times, in the weeks preceding the attack. So, there may be a homosexual revenge motivation, as well as a religious one. The FBI reportedly has his cell phone and dating app login and is investigating.
What is known is that over the course of the nearly six-hour murder spree and shoot-out with a police SWAT Team, Mateen called or spoke with 9-1-1 operators three times. He praised the Islamic-terrorist Taliban group in his family’s homeland of Afghanistan and pledged himself to the murderous leader the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL). He expressed his admiration for and solidarity with the twisted views and actions of an acquaintance from his mosque in Florida, who went to Syria and killed himself in a suicide attack on behalf of the al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front. Finally, he identified with the Sunni-Muslim Tsarnaev brothers, who “defended Islam against the U.S.” by bombing the Boston Marathon, in 2013.
Mateen (age 29, divorced father of one child) was not unknown by the FBI. He had twice been investigated for statements or actions that allegedly connected him to terrorist groups or activities. In 2013, he alarmed co-workers with his claims of family connections to al-Qaida and himself being a member of Hezbollah, which FBI director James Comely said at a briefing on Monday that he found “contradictory” since Hezbollah “is a Shia terrorist organization that is a bitter enemy of the so-called Islamic State.” The fact that both Muslim groups gratuitously murder in the name of Allah, seemed to escape him.
Director Comey said that, in his department’s investigation into possible terrorist ties, Mateen admitted making the statements reported by his coworkers. However, he explained that he did it in anger because he thought they were teasing him because he was a Muslim. The agents apparently found that a reasonable response and closed the first investigation, in early 2014.
Mateen’s name came up again in a separate FBI investigation in July of that same year, when the FBI was investigating Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the Florida man who blew himself up in a suicide attack in Syria. Although agents found that the two men attended the same mosque and knew each other casually Comey said, “The investigation turned up no ties of any consequence between the two of them.” There is no information, at this time, if that mosque may have contributed to their Islamic radicalization.
Religious motivation for the murders can be found in the more than 40 verses in Islam’s holy books, the Qur’an and Hadith, which encourage Muslims to murder unbelievers (or infidels). Sura 9:5 says: “Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem.” When Islamic ideology and the founder’s own words and practices promote the killing of unbelievers (or infidels, who have turned from that faith) we should not be surprised to have these horrific events happen in the name of or for the cause of the god, Allah.
Jesus said, “…In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:2-3)
According to former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, “radical Islam is an ideology that despises our way of life.” Recently, spokesmen for the Islamic State have called upon all Muslims to attack Americans especially and civilians specifically. Marteen’s father, reportedly a Taliban sympathizer, has said his son recently became incensed on a trip to Miami, when he saw two men kissing. So, it is not surprising that this mass murderer chose an Orland gay-nightclub to attack, because homosexuality is considered a capital crime in Islamic law, the LGBT club was a soft target for him to murder in the name of Allah.
David Rubin is an Israeli political analyst, author and founder/ president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established to assist terror victim children, after he and his three year old son were wounded in a terror attack. He points out that the Islamic terrorist organizations, like Hamas and ISIS, praised last week’s vicious attack on diners in Tel Aviv, Israel, which was followed in rapid fire by the horrific attack in Orlando. According to Rubin, we have to be careful not to ignore the fact that both attacks took place at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, sometimes called the month of jihad. “Ramadan is a time of fasting and introspection for Muslims,” he said. Explaining more, Rubin continued, “Therefore, it is the most popular month to practice the highest precept in Islam, which is Jihad, or holy war against what they refer to as the unbelievers. The actualization of Jihad is terrorism.”
How will the Christian community respond to this horrendous act of hatred, in Orlando—home of “the happiest place on earth”? Several members of the National Religious Broadcasters have responded to this tragedy with these messages:
“My prayers are with the many victims and family members who lost loved ones in the senseless shooting—now being called an act of terrorism—at a gay nightclub in Orlando early this morning. Life is precious, and we only have one chance to live our lives here on this earth.”
–Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
“At least fifty people—created in the image of God—were slaughtered in cold blood. Families who were waiting to see their loved ones are finding out today that they will never see them again in this life. That ought to drive us to mourn.”
–Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
“Today, we mourn the deaths of innocent Americans who were murdered by an Islamic terrorist in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The attack appears to be well planned and specifically targeted against the gay community. There is no justification for this terrible act of violence. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, have the absolute right to be secure and live safely in the United States of America. We at CBN strongly condemn this act of violence and offer our condolences to the loved ones of all those killed or injured. We also commend the Orlando Police and the FBI for their swift response, ending this nightmare and saving the lives of those they could.”
–Gordon Robertson, CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network
May we all humble ourselves, knowing that every person killed or wounded was an image-bearer of God, worthy of dignity and respect. In this very divided and politicized season in our country, let’s soften our speech, temper our tone and extend good will and grace to all.