The Orlando gay nightclub killer has been described as a “lone wolf,” meaning that there was insufficient evidence linking him with any known radical Islamic militant groups. But a better term is “individual jihadist.” Individual terrorists are not acting in a vacuum, said Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, and a former CIA spy with an impressive array of credentials. She was also an instructor for military intelligence and Special Forces students for a decade.
The Orlando gay nightclub attack occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Lopez noted that Islamic leaders, including those in the Islamic State (IS) “called upon all Muslims to attack Americans especially, and specifically to attack civilians. It’s written that way exactly, to attack civilians. And obviously because of homosexuality being a hudud (a capital crime in Islamic law) that target was chosen. And it was a soft target, too.” Those calls can act as a trigger for individual jihadists to take action.
Though it is yet unclear whether Omar Mateen, who conducted the attack, was linked to a larger organization, the Islamic State claimed that he was one of their warriors in the American Caliphate. He did call 9-1-1 before the Saturday night attack to pledge allegiance to the IS.
Lopez says that even though an individual jihadist may not have a formal connection to a recognized terrorist organization, there is still an underlying common ideology; “their allegiance is to Islam and to Shariah, to Islamic law. And, of course, under Islamic law homosexuality is a capital crime. It is one of the crimes called illicit sex, addressed both in the Quran and in the hadiths. The death penalty typically is supposed to be stoning, but bullets will do.”
Lopez said that individual jihadists also have a religious obligation under Islamic law and doctrine. “Every single Muslim is individually responsible in a personal way for upholding Shariah,” she said. “In other words, that doctrine makes of every single Muslim a potential, a possible, vigilante. They are obligated to enforce Shariah on an individual basis.”
“Christians,” on the other hand, “are obligated to live by the 10 Commandments, but each individual Christian isn’t obligated for enforcing them,” said Lopez. “But in Islam, it’s the other way. Each Muslim is obligated to enforce it. They are supposed to start by speaking and trying to persuade somebody, or show them the evil of their ways, or whatever they can. But if that doesn’t work, then they are obligated to take physical action.”
“There doesn’t have to be a formal connection…” continued Lopez, because their allegiance is not necessarily only to a group; it’s to Islam, to Islamic law, to Shariah. That’s the allegiance. And that spans the globe.”
“As I understand it,” Lopez continued, “this individual is the son of immigrants from Afghanistan. If he was raised in a devout Muslim family, he learned from childhood what jihad is, and what the obligations of Shariah are… Most mosques and Islamic centers have schools attached to them for the children [called madrasas]. I’ve read some of the children’s textbooks they use in these madrasas. They teach them jihad from the first grade.”
“The Orlando shooter’s father, from Afghanistan, denied the mass murder had anything to do with religion and insisted his son was provoked when his son saw two men kissing. However, the Daily Mail reported that Seddique Mateen “is a strong supporter of the Afghan Taliban.” He appears online in a YouTube video saying, “Our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up.”
The obligation of Muslims to uphold Sharia individually is the reason why Muslims and western societies have difficulty integrating. It is also one of the reasons why Islam is characterized in Bible prophecy as a “wild man.”
“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Genesis 16:12