Another horrendous act of mass murder conducted on American soil in the name of radical Islam? Perhaps only Omar Mateen can answer that question, but as the details of the 29-year-old Pakistani-American’s life in the years leading up to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history unfold, it appears another home-grown terrorist slipped through the cracks of our federal law-enforcement system.
The case contains disturbing parallels to the Boston Marathon bombings, where the FBI in 2011 failed to act on a tip from Russian security services that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been radicalized and en route to Russia to join an underground group in his native Dagestan.
In Mateen’s case, he was interviewed by the FBI in 2013 for statements he made about radical Islamic propaganda, and in 2014 for a possible connection to a U.S.-born suicide bomber, who carried out his death wish in Syria that same year.
In both cases, the FBI concluded the snapshots of these two individuals’ behavior didn’t rise to the level of terrorism. And like the Marathon bombings, FBI officers apparently didn’t share their initial suspicions about Mateen with local law enforcement.
Had a mechanism been in place to undertake systematic reviews of such individuals, perhaps their descent into radical Islam would have been detected and their heinous acts prevented.
In the wake of this mass murder, which so far has taken 49 innocent lives, again we lament this country’s lax gun-control laws. And yes, if Mateen had been on some law-enforcement watch list, his purchase of a semiautomatic rifle and handgun should have set off alarms.
Maybe that’s too much to ask of maxed-out federal investigators. The FBI simply lacks the numbers it needs to handle all the domestic terrorism conspiracies inspired by radical Islam.
It’s because our enemies are on a war footing, but we are not. They’ll never lack the means — whether by firearm or pressure cooker — to inflict the maximum damage.
And this president, despite all the evidence since the 9/11 attacks, still won’t admit this country and other civilized countries are in an all-out war against Islamic terrorism.
We pick at the margins of ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, Iraq and North Africa, which only allows its virulent influence to grow, and increases the probability of another Orlando or San Bernardino.
Don’t expect President Obama to change his course.
But the next president must recognize this threat for what it is. That means giving the FBI and other domestic agencies the assets they need, plus strengthening our allies’ resolve, to win this war against radical Islam at home and abroad.