ISIS Claims Responsibility for Orlando Nightclub Mass Shooting

The announcement comes after an ISIS-affiliated Twitter account posts pictures of the man suspected to be behind the killing of 50 people in the deadliest shooting incident in U.S. history.

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Haaretz
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Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Florida, right, is comforted by an Orlando Police officer after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando, on June 12, 2016.
Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Florida, right, is comforted by an Orlando Police officer after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando.Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP
Reuters
Haaretz

Islamic State's Amaq news agency said on Sunday that the Islamist militant group was responsible for the shooting that killed at least 50 people in a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

"The armed attack that targeted a gay nightclub in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter," Amaq said.

However, two U.S. officials familiar with the investigation into the massacre said that no evidence had yet been found showing a direct link between the massacre and Islamic State or any other militant group.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said they had yet to see any direct contacts between any extremist group and the suspect.

A leading theory, said the officials was that the suspect somehow was inspired by Islamic militants without explicit oversight or orders to carry out the attack. One official said early information, the nature of which he did not disclose, indicated that the shooter was motivated by a mixture of "hate" and religion.

A Twitter account associated with Islamic State posted a photo earlier Sunday purported to be Omar Mateen, identified by U.S. authorities as the shooter.

"The man who carried out the Florida nightclub attack which killed 50 people and injured dozens," the caption accompanying the photo read.

It was not possible to verify whether the picture was in fact of Mateen. Other Twitter accounts linked to Islamist militancy also carried photos of the same individual, and Islamic State supporters posted messages of praise for the attack.

The top Democrat on a congressional intelligence committee said local law enforcement believed Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.

"The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT night club during Pride, and - if accurate - that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism," Representative Adam Schiff said.

Mateen called 911 before the shooting and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, NBC News reported.

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