The massacre in Orlando, Florida is an appalling act of terrorism, the worst the US has suffered since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At such a moment one’s feelings are overwhelming shock, horror and a feeling of solidarity for the victims and their families, and for the American people as a whole who have experienced another terrible atrocity in their own country.
Though reports are sketchy, it appears the massacre was the work of one fanatical individual. It seems he may have been acting from a mix of motives – violent homophobia being one – but overall there seems little doubt he was a violent jihadi Islamist and that the massacre in Orlando was another terrible act of jihadi terrorism.
Unfortunately there is information which – if true – is even more disturbing.
It seems that the terrorist, Omar Mateen, though a US citizen, had established connections to the worldwide jihadist movement, had already on previous occasions attracted the interest of the US authorities as a potential terrorist, and that immediately prior to the killing he claimed to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State ie. Daesh. Moreover it seems that Daesh, or at least agencies connected to it, are claiming responsibility for the massacre.
If so then that might mean that Mateen was acting under instructions – like the terrorists who carried out the massacres in Brussels and Paris were – in which case the massacre was coldly pre-planned and premeditated, or – which is perhaps more likely – that Mateen was inspired to act by Daesh, which accepted his pledge of allegiance after the event, in a similar way to the way it accepted a similar pledge of allegiance from a group of murderers who carried out a smaller massacre in San Bernadino in California last year.
Daesh is known to have issued calls for terrorist outrages to coincide with the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan, which is being celebrated now, and if the massacre was indeed carried out either under its inspiration on its orders, then there must be a terrible possibility that it is intended to be only the first of many.
If this is indeed so – and unfortunately the most likely assumption has to be that it is – then it points to the need for added vigilance across the world, with the very real risk of more terrorist incidents happening over the course of the next few weeks.
If the massacre was either inspired by Daesh or was pre-planned and premeditated by Daesh, then it points to something else, which by now should anyway be obvious.
This is that even by the standards of Islamic jihadi terrorism Daesh is a monstrous psychopathic death cult that has no regard for human life and which has ultimately no other purpose than to commit murder and destruction. Moreover it is a death cult that despite a string of recent defeats still controls large territories in the Middle East, has access to sizeable economic resources, has an elaborate organisation with some of the trappings of a modern state, and which has thousands of men under arms.
The destruction of this organisation, and of violent jihadi terrorism generally, ought to be the overriding international priority to which all others should be given second place.
Instead, in place of the united single-minded approach that massacres like the one in Orlando and the previous ones in Paris and Brussels call for, we have chaos, with different states pursuing contradictory and discordant policies some of which involve colluding with Islamist terrorists in order to achieve obscure geopolitical goals.
The result has been some frankly disgraceful behaviour, such as the Turkey’s continued collusion with violent Islamists in Syria as it seeks the overthrow of the Syrian government, the US call on Russia to cease its bombing of Al-Qaeda groups in Syria, made for the same reason, and the heartless reaction in some sections of the Western media and on the part of some officials of the US government following the terrorist bombing of the Russian Metrojet airliner over Sinai, with the appalling suggestion that the Russians had somehow brought that outrage on themselves.
In the immediate aftermath of the recent terrorist attack in Paris back in March I wrote an article for Sputnik in which I said that the expressions of outrage which would shortly come from Western governments were worthless unless there was a fundamental rethink of Western policy away from its obsessive pursuit of regime change in the Middle East and from the practice of trying to manipulate jihadi terrorist groups in order to achieve geopolitical goals.
The horrible massacre in Orlando – bringing jihadi violence once more to the US heartland and possibly exposing Americans for the first time in their own country to the murderous violence of Daesh – underscores again the desperate need for such a rethink.