[I have been interviewed by two journalists on Sunday’s murderous attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando. Here are my responses to the questions posed.]
Questions from free-lance journalist Abdel – Rahman Youssef for Al-Jazeera
Q. What do you think the impact of of this incident on the US elections, either when it comes to voting for the Republicans in Florida or in the elections in general given that Florida is a swing state?
A. Until this event, the extremely high negative ratings for both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump (57% for each in the Post-ABC poll of May 16-19) meant that there was a strong possibility in this election that the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Gary Johnson would carry the balance of power between them, or even win enough states to throw the election to the House of Representatives. It is conceivable that this event will alter that that possibility, but whether and how it does depends upon too many variables (for example, precisely how the Trump, Clinton, and, for that matter, Johnson, campaigns react, and how the different segments of the electorate receive those reactions) for me to venture a prediction
Q. Some Americans on Twitter deemed the incident as another September 11. What is your take on that? And how do you think the attack is similar to/different from 9/11? Will the ramifications be the same?
A. The 9/11 attacks were inspired, if not planned, by al-Qaeda. As we do not yet know whether this was a homophobic hate crime or an attempt to copy-cat ISIL’s Paris nightclub attacks, it is premature to draw parallels to 9/11. However, the differences are stark: difference in scale (9/11 had an order of magnitude more victims), difference in mode (9/11 was a coordinated pre-planned attack while this appears to have been a lone wolf action), difference in target (9/11 was aimed at the U.S. military establishment and employees in an economic power center while this is aimed at civilians belonging to an oppressed social minority group at a recreational site).
Q. How can Muslims respond to the consequences of this attack especially we are in Ramadan and Islamic centers are hustling with Muslims who are actively observing the ritual of fasting?
A. As is appropriate for people engaged in a ritual meant to increase their God-consciousness and spirituality, Muslims are responding with expressions of sympathy for and solidarity with the victims and calls for Muslims in the vicinity of the crime to donate blood for the victims and to provide any knowledge they may have of the perpetrator to the proper authorities.
Questions from Javier Mendez of EL-Mercurio
Q. It is possible that Islamic State could attack into the USA?
A. Although the investigation is ongoing and any conclusions are premature, an anonymous US counter-terrorism official was quoted in Vice News as saying that there is “no evidence yet that this was directed” by ISIS. As of now, the following facts are especially relevant: Mateen’s father reported that his son was infuriated by the sight of two men kissing in public, Mateen’s fomer wife has described him as a violently unstable individual, the authorities say he bought the weapons only days before the shooting, he had been investigated previously by the FBI, and at no time was he in a position to be trained by ISIS. These facts suggest that this was an act of violence perpetrated by a homophobic individual who subsequently sought to associate his deed with a larger movement, not an operation instigated by ISIS.
Q. What could be the political and security effects in USA for this serious incident?
A. As this was the worst mass shooting incident in American history, it pushes multiple socio-political hot buttons, especially Islamophobia, gay rights, and calls for gun control.
Q. In your opinion, what will happen with the war against the Islamic State?
A. Eventually the Islamic State will be crushed by the people immediately oppressed or threatened by it. Foreign military intervention to date has only delayed that by allowing the terrorists to force themselves on the locals as the alternative to Bashar Assad’s brutality in Syria and to the Iraqi regime’s hostility to the Sunnis of Western Iraq.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute