In the immediate hours after Omar Mateen, an American citizen of Afghan descent, committed the worst mass shooting in American history in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the focus of media coverage turned to where it usually does when the killer is Muslim: terrorism.
Certainly, Mateen gave plenty of reason to link his crime to the self-declared Islamic State and jihadi terrorism, in general. He literally called 911 while the massacre was underway to pledge his allegiance to the group and rail against U.S. bombing attacks in Iraq and Syria. Here was, seemingly, a clear-cut case of the so-called lone-wolf terrorist, inspired by Islamic State videos online and radicalized by U.S. counterterrorism strategy in the Middle East, wreaking his vengeance against defenseless Americans. If this was the case, and Mateen had been radicalized like the husband-and-wife killers in San Bernardino, no longer could it be said that America’s best defense against terrorism—the lack of radicalization among the American Muslim population—was keeping the country safe.
The usual suspects in the world of punditry and politics quickly ran with the news to push their own political agendas.