By Kasim Ileri
WASHINGTON (AA) – There is no evidence that an Orlando mass shooter was “directed externally” by Daesh, President Barack Obama said Monday.
“It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the Internet,” Obama said at beginning of a meeting with his national security team at the White House.
Although Omar Mateen who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida, announced his allegiance to Daesh minutes before the attack Sunday, there appears to be “no clear evidence” that shows any ties to the extremist group, according to Obama.
“At this stage, there's no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot,” Obama said “In that sense, it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don't yet know,” he added, referring to the deadly terror attack by a married couple in California last December that killed 14 victims.
The FBI reported that the pair pledged allegiance to Daesh’s leader shortly before the massacre.
The shooting in Orlando was a kind of “home grown extremism,” and authorities are proceeding with the case as a terror probe, according to Obama.
“One of the biggest challenges we are going to have is this kind of propaganda and perversions of Islam that you see generated on the Internet,” he added.
Obama also told reporters that Mateen seems to have illegally obtained the AR-15 assault rifle and Glock handgun used in the attack because the shooter did not have a criminal record that would have prohibited him from buying firearms.
But the president stressed that the debate in the coming days should not be centered solely on terrorism or on guns alone.
“My concern is that we start getting into a debate, as has happened in the past, which is an either/or debate, and the suggestion is either we think about something as terrorism and we ignore the problems with easy access to firearms or it's all about firearms and we ignore the role, the very real role, that organizations like ISIL have in generating extremist views inside this country,” he said.
Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump criticized Obama for not blaming the shooting on “radical Islamic terrorism.”
Obama alluded to the recrimination by touting his own position for having stricter gun control laws but said regardless of motivations, the problem remains that young and troubled individuals have easy access to firearms.