A year later, there are still some in the mainstream media trying to figure out why jihadi Omar Mateen shot up the Pulse nightclub. Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel searches for a motive in a lengthy report titled, “Pulse gunman’s motive: Plenty of theories, but few answers.” Wait, what?
The article provides a little clarity on what Brinkmann was trying to report, but not much. His focus seems to be on the question of why the Pulse nightclub, and not another venue. But that isn’t really motive; that’s location. Focusing on location obscures the real motive, which is the destruction of the West in the name of Allah.
Brinkmann grasps to understand a full motive, instead of the one staring him right in the face.
Then came the Pulse massacre on June 12, putting Florida on the map with 49 red dots. Not everyone killed at Pulse was gay, but ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attack, noted the victims were all in “a nightclub for homosexuals.”
But there’s still no evidence that the Pulse killer intended to target gay people. A year after the massacre, the only confirmed motive is the shooter’s statements to 911 operators and hostage negotiators. He told them he pledged allegiance to ISIS and wanted people to know the pain that Syrians and Iraqis felt.
“At the end of the day, there are things we can learn from this, but we may not get a definitive answer that explains why the killer chose this target,” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former senior profiler with the FBI and an expert on mass shootings.
Occam’s razor is a principle in philosophy that posits the simplest answer is often the correct one. That is the case here. Despite what numerous “experts” cited in Brinkmann’s piece say, this wasn’t about Mateen finding ISIS as a justification for some other motive. Radical Islamic jihad was the motive.
Until policymakers and the media understand that there are a group of people that want to destroy the
West and instill a worldwide caliphate, we can’t confront the problem. Looking for other motives to describe why jihadis attack — beyond jihad itself — is frankly dangerous.
CR’s Nate Madden, after the Manchester jihad attack, outlined, “Why terrorists attack children.” The statement could switch out “children” and replace it with any other group of people. The answer fundamentally remains the same. Here’s what Madden wrote:
These phases, as explained by Trump advisor Dr. Sebastian Gorka in 2015, are:
A talk Gorka gave at the Heritage Foundation in 2015 further illuminates how this strategy works. Here's a synopsis of the lecture from the Institute of World Politics:
Phase 1, "vexation," is comprised of operations to distract and exhaust the infidel enemy and his allies. It puts emphasis on smaller dramatic operations (as opposed to dramatic transnational attacks) and is used to prepare fighting units for phase 2. Phase 2, as Dr. Gorka explained, is the "spread savagery" stage, which ISIS has already begun. In this phase, leaders of the insurgency coordinate unconventional warfare to "dislodge" nations from local control. Phase 3, "administer savagery/consolidate/expand," is designed to out-govern the government. In this phase, the leaders stabilize held areas, unite the population as a fighting community, and implement sharia law and government as a means to establish a base-state. This base-state is a new type of hybrid caliphate used to attack and expand into neighboring countries.
This is the big picture that it is so important to keep in mind when it comes to these sorts of terror attacks. It’s vexing enough for people in the West to worry whether a small explosion will make their trip to the market a fatal one. It’s more vexing when those same kinds of attacks become a monthly occurrence. And it’s even more vexing when those attacks are focused on a society’s children.
A jihadi picks his target to “distract.” Brinkmann’s focus on some other, hidden, non-jihad motive behind Mateen’s attack feeds directly into the jihadi playbook.
Stop trying to rationalize what the jihadis do; take them at their word. Then work to stop them from having the means to attack again.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC. If you see something you’d like him to cover, tweet him @robeno.