Omar, Obama and Orlando

Gamal Nkrumah
Wednesday 22 Jun 2016

The Orlando incident has raised many questions

Omar Mateen, an American of Afghan origin who claims he was influenced by the militant Islamist Islamic State, opened fire with his AR-15 riffle killing 50 people and injuring many more in an Orlando nightclub in Florida.

The Orlando incident is being used by United States presidential hopefuls ruthlessly to promote their own political interests.

What's with Orlando? "Our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or even just a disturbed individual to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons, and they can do so legally," Obama told reporters in Orlando.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the US and abroad has come under severe scrutiny and judgment by religious leaders, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Homosexuality is banned in many predominantly Muslim nations and is considered a criminal offense, often prompting a death sentence.

Mateen's motives are as yet unknown. Was he driven by hysterical homophobia? The exact details of the case were not yet known. "I've seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I've spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before," Chris Callen, a performer at Pulse in Orlando, was quoted as saying to the New York Daily News.

So is Omar a closet gay, an Islamist terrorist or a dysfunctional mental case as his ex-wife told the media? Perhaps he is all rolled in one.

Orlando, a prosperous city in central Florida, is home to more than a dozen theme parks and therefore has a reputation of something of a playground.

Do Omar and Orlando have anything in common? Is Omar the quintessential Afghan American? Or is he a militant Islamist Taliban at heart?

But that's beside the point. Political economist Rob Urie expounds on the political implications of the Orlando tragedy: "In broader understanding, the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey developed the ‘telos of becoming’ to describe life-purpose as it unfolds historically. In contrast to passive theories of pre-ordination, Dilthey’s purposiveness is brought into being through the act of living. In a social sense this theory places the policies and practices of Bill and Hillary Clinton on the path to those of George W Bush as necessary precedents."

To overlook or ignore the bellicose nature of US foreign policy and pretend that it has nothing to do with Omar and Orlando is preposterous.

Urie goes on to explain that Bush's atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan were preceded by Bill Clinton's sanctions led to the death of some 500,000 Iraqis.

US President Obama noted that “one of the biggest challenges we are going to have is this kind of propaganda and perversions of Islam that you see generated on the internet.”

“This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets," Democratic Party presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton unabashedly declared.

"And Barack Obama had pretty much the same message as his evil ex-Secretary of State. Gun control and LGBT rights were front and center, but nary a word about the devastation the US Empire has wrought in the Middle East that brought about the rise of IS," noted Professor John Walsh in Counterpunch. 

The US suffers the consequences of the lack of gun control and the discrimination against the LGBT community. "But [Hillary Clinton] forgets to say in her statement that ISIS laid claim to the atrocity, lauding one of its American followers for carrying out the deed," Walsh elaborates. "So the Islamic State is responsible". 

Much is made about Omar Mateen being a lone wolf, and that he did not take direct orders from the Islamic State. But, many of those who carry out terrorist attacks take their cue from the Internet. The Islamic State no longer instructs certain individuals to undertake terrorist attacks. 

This was precisely why a Frenchman of North African Muslim ancestry who pledged allegiance to Islamic State stabbed a police commander and his partner to death on Monday night. 

Larossi Abballa, 25, a second generation Moroccan born in France, also took the couple's three-year-old son hostage. Abballa was jailed in 2013 for smuggling Islamist militants to Pakistan, and had been under security service surveillance, including wiretaps, at the time of the assassination claimed Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon, but as Orlando and Paris prove, there is something terribly wrong with Western security systems. It almost seems that Western security services seek to privilege the militant Islamist terrorists.

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