In the wake of the Orlando shootings, WARN Founder Henna Rai wrote this response that originally appeared in The Telegraph.
The horrific events at Orlando reveal a deadly turn in the tactics of Daesh, as the terrorist group crumbles in the Middle East.
Daesh-controlled cities like Fallujah, Sirte and Raqqa are being slowly encircled. Foreign fighters have been begging their embassies to let them come home – even if it means a long prison sentence. The false “caliphate” is imploding and as it does, the call for so-called “lone wolf” attacks is repeated by its spokesman, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
In the run up to Orlando, Adnani had reiterated an earlier demand for Daesh supporters to lash out in their home countries, with Daesh taking the credit for their murders. This clearly had an effect. Omar Mateen, the Orlando gunman, ostensibly pledged allegiance to Daesh hours before committing a cold-blooded massacre.
Prior to this, Mateen had a history of violence, as was referenced by his ex-wife who had to be rescued by her family from the horrific domestic abuse Mateen subjected her to. It is quite clear, Mateen, a quiet individual who was known to be a loner and aggressive in his demeanour, had many unresolved personal issues which may have contributed to him being radicalised.
Many speculations are being made to his own personal sexuality, following released reports of his frequenting the very club he targeted for over three years and being an active user of gay dating apps. Although these speculative stories are yet to be substantiated, it affirms the internal conflicts he may have faced from a faith perspective, particularly if he was in contact with Daesh. We are all, by now fully aware of the position Daesh hold on homosexuality.
If Mateen was at all overt about his sexual orientation, and had he been living in Daesh-occupied Syria, his end would have been met from the known Daesh choice of punishments for accused homosexuals- thrown straight off the tallest building to his death.
Perhaps this reality of Daesh atrocities, further contributed to his internal conflicts and the need to be acknowledged by them? Thus furthering his bloodthirsty agenda for the massacre of innocent lives.
The terrorists posted a statement on social media owning the atrocity – a depraved deed they felt proud to be associated with. So, anybody with a grievance can commit murder on our streets then try and glorify their thuggery by claiming it was done in the name of Islam.
Whether there is truth to this being done with prior Daesh knowledge or due to their losing the status and the imploding of their notorious false Caliphate, Daesh are now desperate to own any act of terror to hold some kind of perverse authority and fear in the eyes of the world.
That is the twisted version of Islam espoused by Daesh with its gory emphasis on executions and torture. Nowhere in Islamic scripture can the taking of life, as happened in Orlando and so many other places, be justified. In its death agonies, Daesh is offering its brand to any person with a grievance who wants to brutalise their fellow citizens.
As somebody who has worked with vulnerable individuals, I know how dangerous this messaging can be. Daesh is offering a logic and a rationale for very troubled people to commit terrible acts.
Mateen was reported by colleagues to be aggressive and his ex-wife has spoken of the abuse she suffered. Yet Daesh gave him a ghastly ideology to latch on to before killing people solely because they were LGBT.
Our response to Adnani and killers like Mateen must be unity and resilience. Muslims stand together with LGBT people and all our fellow Britons in rejecting this creed of death. All of us must be vigilant as Daesh declines, it may prove to be more deadly than ever.
This article originally appeared in The Telegraph, 15 June 2016.
At WARN, our mission is to fight radicalisation through education, empowerment and engagement. Women have the power to educate future generations, inspire change and protect vulnerable people against the evils of radicalisation.