According to the New York Times and CNN, an assailant attacked an Orlando nightclub with an assault rifle and a handgun, killing about
20 50 people (updated) and injuring 42 53. The attack occurred at about 2 a.m. The assailant, who was killed in a battle with police, may also have also had explosives taped to his body.
The new death toll of 50, which may rise, makes this by far the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
My CNN news feed identifies the suspect as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, and The Jerusalem Post notes that, according to the FBI, Mateen may have had connections or leanings to ISIS.
While it’s possible this isn’t a terrorist attack, the likelihood is that it is. It may also be relevant that it was a gay nightclub.
This is a mirror of the terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv last week. There is no justification possible for either attack, though Hamas claimed credit for the latter and many Palestinians celebrated the four Israeli civilians who were killed, passing out sweets and issuing celebratory tweets. Any celebrations in the Islamic world will be more muted this time, as the organization involved was more likely to be ISIS rather than Hamas, and the targets were not Israelis but Americans.
But it’s never justified to kill innocent civilians, and I mourn for those, both Americans and Israelis, who lost their lives, as well as for the friends and relatives who remain. Our next President will have a hard row to hoe, for these attacks are not going away. We have the problem of gun control and we have the problem of terrorist Islamism. Neither has a clear solution, especially given the administration’s refusal to recognize religious motivations and Americans’ love of their weapons.