Speaking for the second time about the Orlando shootings, President Barack Obama on Monday said the attack was a case of “homegrown extremism”, and that the shooter, Omar Mateen, may have been inspired by the Islamic State but not directed by it.
“It appears the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet,” Obama said in remarks from the Oval Offie after a meeting with his national security team.
“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” he said. “It does appear that at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL. But there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL (another name for Islamic State), and at this stage there’s no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot.”
Obama likened the shootings to the San Bernardino attack last December, when a married couple of Pakistani descent gunned down 14 people and pledged allegiance to the IS while on the run.
Mateen had declared his allegiance to the group in a 911 call he made before he opened fire on a Saturday night crowd at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Obama, who had renewed a call for reconsidering the country’s gun laws in his first remarks on the shootings on Sunday, drew comparisons with other such incidents on his watch to point to how easy it is for people to acquire deadly weapons such as the ones used by Mateen.
Mateen used an AR-15 assault rifle, the same kind used by Colorado theatre killer James Holmes and Newtown school mass murderer Adam Lanza, and a Glock handgun he had recently purchased legally, despite his past brushes with the FBI, which twice investigated him for terrorist links.