Is America Under Attack? Worst Mass Casualty Since 9/11

In terms of lives lost, last nights terror attack on an Orlando night club is the worst on U.S. soil since 9/11. Was this a hate crime or has ISIS struck in the U.S.? Was this lone wolf attack the new dimension of terror we are facing?

Terrorists normally operate within a group or a very small cell but due to information are readily available these days on the internet, it makes it much easier for an individual to be radicalized  and to acquire skills like bomb making and what type of weapons to use to cause mass casualty. 

The shooter has been identified as the 29 year old Omar Siddiqui Mateen. a US citizen from Afghan descent and worked as a local security guard. According to sources he has been known to the FBI, which reduces the idea that this was a gay hate crime but more than likely a radicalized individual supporting a group like ISIS.

This attacks also has a few so called "signatures" of an ISIS inspired attack:

  • The gunman was from Afghan descent and most like Sunni. One of the few commonalities that Islamist extremist share is their Sunni Muslim background
  • It was a soft target. Like the beach attacks in Tunisia, the Paris attacks in November and the shootings at the Brussels airport, these were all soft targets which caused mass casualties which were carried out by Muslim males aged between 25-35.
  • An ISIS affiliated Twitter account has shared the picture of the gunman, shortly after the attack, like they did after the Brussels and Paris attacks

Although it has not been confirmed yet, this attack seems to lean towards a typical lone wolf, ISIS inspired, attack. Lone wolves are more likely to suffer from mental disorders and social isolation which make them harder to detect and monitor, if known to authorities, and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly when an individual is planning to carry out an attack.

This gunman might not have been directly in contact with ISIS or a formal fighter or part of a sleeper cell but he also might have been a "fanboy" which is an individual that would like to join a terror group like ISIS but for whatever reason, has not been able to join the fight in the battlefield.

We can be sure that all Joint Terrorism Task Force units have been activated and are scouring through the electronic footprint of the gunman, getting phone records and checking for any other links to the terror group. 

There are way more suspects than resources in the lone wolf scenario and it makes it very difficult to police and it is a constant juggling act to deploy the right assets effectively with so many possible lone wolves out there.

However, lone wolves are also normally hardly completely alone. There are always links. Always dots that can be connected back to groups and individuals which knew what they were planning. These connections eventually do surface. 

Fact remains that this was an attack by a sick individual who swore allegiance to a sick caliphate. Today there are 50 families which have been torn apart. Joy has been ripped from 50 families and friends. 50 people died at the hands of a terrorist. Striking on U.S. soil.

Lets spare a thought for those who perished.

Barry Oberholzer

Born in Houston, Texas, a former professional rugby player and current CrossFit and Ironman athlete, Barry  is the founder of TerrorMate app and is a counter-terrorism and intelligence expert. Formerly Barry served as a confidential informant for Department of Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Belgium Customs Intelligence and HM Revenue & Customs Intelligence in the United Kingdom. 

One of his most impactful successes was in his identification of Iranian sanction busting syndicates who smuggled US manufactured aircraft and parts to Iran which led to the arrests of several prominent international businessmen. He also had numerous successes in major illicit cigarette seizures in Europe.