The probe into Sunday morning’s murder of 49 Orlando club-goers is being treated as a “terrorist investigation,” but so far there is no evidence the shooter was directed by ISIS or had contact with ISIS members, President Obama said this morning.
“It appears the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet,” Obama said at a media briefing in the White House, noting “it does appear at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIS. ” But, the president added, “there is no direct evidence” he was part of a larger plot.
All those materials are being searched, Obama said, “so we have a better sense of the pathway the killer took in making the decision to launch this attack.” But, Obama added, “we see no clear evidence he was directed externally.”
In the wake of today’s shooting one of the dangers “is it ends up being the usual political debate” in which the NRA and gun advocates “say Obama doesn’t want to talk about terrorism. And, if you talk about terrorism, then people say why aren’t you looking into the issue of gun control?”
Too late — it had already erupted yesterday on TV news and on social media, within hours of the attack. Even so, Obama again made the argument the discussion in the aftermath of Sunday’s slaughter should not be an either/or debate.
Among the issues Obama said he hoped authorities would ponder: “The fact that we make it this challenging for law enforcement to get alerted that somebody who they are watching has purchased a gun, and if they do get alerted sometimes its hard for them to stop them from getting a gun, is crazy. We have to some soul searching,” Obama said.
“We make it very easy for individuals who are troubled, disturbed or want to engage in violent acts to get powerful weapons very quickly.”
The FBI had investigated the shooter, who was the 50th person killed at Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning, several times over the past few years, but each time concluded it did not have evidence to proceed with any action. Obama this morning made a point of saying the FBI followed procedures they were supposed to, and “did a proper job.”
Sunday’s shooting, in which another 53 people were injured, is an “example of the type of homegrown extremism all of us have been so concerned about for a very long time.” The killer “was able to obtain weapons legally. It appears one of those he was able to carry out of the store was an assault rifle,” Obama added, saying it “indicated the degree to which it was not difficult for him to obtain those weapons.”