- Thomson Reuters
President Barack Obama says there’s no clear evidence that the shooter at an Orlando nightclub was directed to conduct his attack or part of a larger plot.
In brief comments Monday from the Oval Office on Monday, Obama told reporters that current evidence suggested the shooter was inspired by extremist information disseminated over the internet, yet wasn’t directed by the terrorist group ISIS.
“This is certainly an example of the kind of home-grown extremism that all of us have been so concerned about for a long time,” Obama said.
He later added: “At the end of the day this is something that we’re going to have to grapple with. Making sure that even as we go after ISIL and other extremist organizations overseas, even as we hit their leadership, even as we go after their infrastructure, even as we take key personnel off the field, even as we disrupt external plots, the biggest challenge we’re going to have is this kind of propaganda and perversions of Islam that you see generated on the Internet.”
After attending a private briefing on the investigation by FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other officials, the president said the investigation is at the preliminary stages and is being treated as a terrorism investigation. But he suggested that the attack appears to be similar to last year’s shooting spree in San Bernardino, California.
Obama added that investigators are still looking into the motivations of the shooter, including the fact that the shooting took place at a gay nightclub. He urged for a sober national conversation in the attack’s aftermath.
“We’re still looking at all the motivations of the killer, but it’s a reminder that regardless of race, religion, faith, or sexual orientation, we’re all Americans. We need to be looking after each other and protecting each other at all times in the face of this terrible act,” Obama said.
Though most of Obama’s comments were dedicated to details of the investigation, the president also hinted at the need for stricter gun controls, pointing out how the shooter legally obtained weapons despite several separate FBI probes.
“It does indicate the degree to which it was not difficult for him to obtain these kinds of weapons,” Obama said.
The White House will spend the next several days focused on national-security issues.
Following the attacks on Sunday, Obama postponed his trip to Wisconsin later this week to campaign with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden canceled an appearance at a fundraiser for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.