Obama: 'We Don't Yet Know The Motivations' of Terrorist Nightclub Shooter

June 13, 2016

President Obama said Monday that "we don't yet know the motivations" of the terrorist who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before murdering 49 people at a gay Florida nightclub.

In remarks from the White House, Obama commented on the likely "connections" of anti-gay attitudes from groups like ISIS and Omar Mateen, a Muslim who reportedly expressed distaste at a same-sex couple before his deadly attack.

"I think we don't yet know the motivations, but here's what we do know is organizations like ISIL or organizations like al Qaeda or those who have perverted Islam and created these radical, nihilistic, vicious organizations. One of the groups that they target are gays and lesbians, because they believe that they do not abide by their attitudes towards sexuality," Obama said. "Now, we also know these are organizations that think it's fine to take captive women and enslave them and rape them. So, you know, there clearly are connections between the attitudes of an organization like this and their attitudes towards tolerance and pluralism and a belief that all people are treated equally regardless of sexual orientation.

"That is something threatening to them. Women being empowered is threatening to them. So, yes, I'm sure we will find that there are connections, regardless of the particular motivations of this killer, there are connections between this vicious, bankrupt ideology and general attitudes towards gays and lesbians, and unfortunately that's something that the LGBT community is subject to, not just by ISIL, but by a lot of groups that purport to speak on behalf of God around the world."

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, with its news organization announcing the massacre was "carried out by an Islamic State fighter." It is the deadliest mass shooting in American history.