Pulse shooting: Think about the motivation, but don't forget the means.

Pulse shooting: Think about the motivation, but don't forget the means.

Juliette Kayyem on Orlando Shooting: Guns Made Mateen The Most Successful Terrorist Since 9/11

June 14, 2016

If I don't sound normal, it's because things are not so normal.

I'm recording this from Orlando Florida, just days after the horrible terrorist attack at an LBBT bar in which 50 people do far were killed by a terrorist named Omar Mateen. 

You may have seen me on CNN, but I wanted to just get on the podcast and explain everything that's going on that we should be cognizant of. 

If you ask me how do we stop a terrorist, I have two answers: One is that you try to stop the ideology, the things that make people radicalized. Whether it's a perverse form of Islam or antisemitism.  Or white supremacy. You try to change the motivation. And that's hard to do, particularly when what we're seeing is the kind of radicalization that we've seen here of Omar Mateen. Of someone who didn't even seem to know what kind of radicalization he was undergoing: he mentioned the Boston Marathon Bombers, who were apparent adherents of Al-Qaeda, and of course mentioning ISIS in a 9-1-1 call he made during his attacks. He also clearly has an anti LGBT sentiment that animated a lot of what he was doing. And he probably was mentally deranged. I come from the belief that if you go into a bar and kill 50 people, that's a given.

But that's only one piece of the problem. It's one thing to focus on motivation and to try to change the way people think or have a better security apparatus that would be able to predict who amongst those that we're worried about will actually be the one to walk into a bar on a Saturday night where people were celebrating.

But there's another side to it. A side that you are hearing from people out there-- including President Obama, but there are others-- and that is to stop terrorism, you certainly ought to look at the means. How are terrorists successful? If I told you terrorists were using a certain kind of unique entity. Let's call it red licorice. You would take some time as a security official to examine, regulate, determine who was buying that red licorice. For some reason, or for reasons that we know all to well, men and women are able to kill in mass atrocities is because of our gun laws. And our failure to see how that's related.

Countering terrorism is not the terrorists problem, it's our problem. And it's a problem that views all discussions about guns as political. They're not! It's a strategic notion.

I  want to stop terrorists. I am going to focus on their ideology and their motivations, but I want to focus on their means. And begin to think how inane it is to have a system in which FBI agents interviewed Omar Marteen several times but with no capacity to stop gun purchases. A system that allows someone who is on a terrorist watch list to purchase guns lawfully.

So that's what's going on. Don't let people focus on the motivation only. We're not going to find the perfect answer. We're going to find a combination of things. He was pro ISIS because he thought it was a grand statement that would get notoriety. He doesn't know the difference between ISIS and Al-Qaeda. His a homophobe. All of those motivations got him to the bar. To that front door, but the means, the guns made him the most successful terrorist since 9/11. 


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