A few things seem clear from Sunday’s shocking massacre in Orlando carried out by Omar Mateen, a self-professed follower of the Islamic State.
The shooter was apparently a self-recruiter responding to ISIS’s many calls to carry out such attacks, which emphasizes how the threat of Jihadist terrorism may now be outpacing even the most sophisticated of intelligence operations to expose ISIS agents. This kind of recruit doesn’t need to be a part of any such network.
His ex-wife remarked that, when she knew him, he wasn’t very religious. Others have said that he was influenced by a radical cleric.
The precise state of his religious beliefs, I would argue, doesn’t matter, because the appeal of Jihadism isn’t primarily religious, it’s nihilistic, masquerading as religion.
Previous revolutionary movements like Bolshevism and National Socialism attracted psychopaths, sadists and mayhem-seekers alongside ideologically rigid true believers. The same is true from what we know about recruits to ISIS from the West, including one who said that its operations were “the real Disney World.” In other words, they are murder tourists looking for the thrill of a real-life amusement park of rape, torture and death. It was reported of those who carried out the Paris attack that some of them were heavy drinkers and drug-users with zero evident interest in religion.
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