Orlando massacre: ‘ISIS capitalizing on lone-wolf attacks inspired by terror propaganda’

Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the Orlando mass shooting may be nothing more than a propaganda move to capitalize on a massacre perpetrated by a lone-wolf attacker who could have had no direct links to the terror group, security experts told RT.

LIVE UPDATES: Mass shooting at Orlando gay nightclub

Many Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) attacks have been carried out by people who have no direct connections with the group, but who were inspired by terrorist “propaganda” and a quite successful “information war,” former FBI agent Coleen Rowley told RT.

“It is a very worrying trend … If people are merely inspired and there’s this information war taking place where ISIS actually has a very much an upper hand … ISIS is seen as one of the only entities that is fighting the United States and they are carrying on propaganda,” she said.

Former CIA officer Jack Rice agrees that Orlando massacre has most likely been carried out by a “lone-wolf”.

“There’s really three different issues when I think about what the Islamic State has done. We think of what they have done directly in the likes of Syria…and places like Belgium, and France. Then there’s that secondary group – those who specifically are operators for ISIS, human-trained by ISIS and human-sent out… But then you can think about those who have been simply inspired by ISIS not even having any direct connections (think of San Bernardino). So what we have here potentially might be the third group,” Jack Rice told RT.

“ISIS has been very clear about this around the world…they are trying to inspire the likes of people like this man, like what we saw in San Bernardino to go out and commit attacks in its name, and, sadly, these are the most difficult to stop simply because they are the lone wolf that has no direct connection, who can simply stand up, go out into the crowd and level it,” he added.

Although it is not yet known for sure whether the massacre was “terrorism-inspired per say” or whether it was homophobia, it is perfectly clear that the perpetrator is “trying to have an impact on a massive group of people,” Rice believes.

“Apparently, we might have already seen at least one copycat,” he said, referring to the arrest of a heavily armed suspect who was allegedly planning an attack on the LGBT community who were participating in a pride event in Los Angeles area.

“We shouldn’t lose our minds but…we should also be very clear that there may be others out there who’re saying ‘wait a second, if they can do it, so can I’.”

US Defense Analyst Evan Eland also doubted ISIS’ direct involvement into the Orlando massacre, saying the group is simply “trying to take credit for it.”

“Clearly, this person [the perpetrator] pledged allegiance to the Islamic State but his target is not one the international terrorists would typically target…Certainly, ISIS has a role in this but it may just be inspiring it rather than planning it. That’s what it seems at the moment,” he told RT.

“The question is if this mainly is a domestic anti-gay attack or is it linked in the planning way to ISIS which it doesn’t seem to be at this point. It might be a lone wolf attack of an American who is sympathetic with the group,” he added.

Rowley believes that the reason for the upward trend for the lone-wolf attacks can be explained by the US’ involvement in wars in the Middle East.

“The real problem here is… the wars that have increased the level of hatred and the level of violence. It’s not just the Islamic terrorism in the United States; it’s the hate crimes, what the FBI calls active shooters,” she said. “We nearly have an active shooter once a week that kills dozens of people, many more even that an Islamic terrorist.”

Eland agreed that there had been a trend for lone-wolf attacks in the US, saying that Americans in a way have “acclimatized” and are “used to” shootings which occur every now and then.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.