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Was Las Vegas a Jihad Attack?
There is scant reason to doubt ISIS’ claim of responsibility.
By Robert Spencer
Memphis imam Yasir Qadhi said that the Las Vegas massacre was a manifestation of “white privilege.” Texas imam Omar Suleiman tweeted ridicule of ISIS’ claim of responsibility for the attack: “Breaking: ISIS claims responsibility for hurricane Harvey saying he became Muslim days before hitting Houston.”
They didn’t ridicule the ISIS claim, but unnamed U.S. officials did decisively dismiss it: Reuters reported that “two senior US officials said on Monday that there was no evidence that the shooter who killed at least 50 people in Las Vegas was tied to any international militant group….One of the two US officials discounted Islamic State’s claim of responsibility and said there was reason to believe that the shooter, whom police identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, had a history of psychological problems.”
The only one insisting that the Islamic State was responsible was the Islamic State itself. Its Amaq news agency initially announced: “The Las Vegas attack was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried it out in response to calls to target states of the coalition. The Las Vegas attacker converted to Islam a few months ago.”
Then, after its initial claim was dismissed everywhere, the Islamic State doubled down, issuing an official communiqué identifying Paddock as “Abu Abd Abdulbar al-Ameriki.” Even after their claim was dismissed everywhere, they didn’t back away from it. They don’t seem to be afraid that Stephen Paddock will turn out to be a white supremacist neo-Nazi or some such. They don’t seem to be worried about being exposed as grandiose liars.
And historically, they haven’t been liars, at least when they claimed responsibility for jihad attacks. Islamic State expert Graeme Wood notes in The Atlantic that “the idea that the Islamic State simply scans the news in search of mass killings, then sends out press releases in hope of stealing glory, is false,” and that those who claim that ISIS is in the habit of taking credit for attacks it had nothing to do with “do not have a preponderance of prior examples on their side.” Contradicting Suleiman’s ridicule, Wood notes: “The Islamic State does not claim natural disasters. Its supporters rejoice in them, but they reserve their official media for intentional acts.”
This doesn’t mean that Wood accepts everything ISIS says at face value. He reports one false ISIS claim: “In June, a gambling addict shot up and torched the Resorts World casino in Manila, Philippines. The Islamic State claimed credit, with a dubious follow-up alleging that Jessie Javier Carlos, 42, converted to Islam some months before, without telling anyone. That explanation appears to be a total lie.”
Others, however, disagree. Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said: “It’s very likely that the Resorts World was a terrorist operation.” Veryan Khan, editorial director and founder of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), added that the attack was not just a terror attack, but specifically an ISIS one, “at the very minimum sanctioned – if not directed – by the Islamic State.”
What’s more, Jones added: “It isn’t true that ISIS has a history of claiming others’ attacks as their own.” And Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside al-Qaeda and head of the International Centre for Political Violence & Terrorism Research, likewise vouched for the general veracity of ISIS’ claims of responsibility: “The propaganda organs of ISIS such as Amaq exaggerate but do not falsely take credit for attacks mounted by other entities.”
While social media is abuzz with charges that only racist, bigoted “Islamophobes” are taking the Islamic State’s claim seriously, it should be noted that neither Jones nor Gunaratna have ever been accused of “Islamophobia,” and that both stated that the Islamic State was generally trustworthy in its claims of responsibility not in response to the Las Vegas attack, but back in July.
In light of all this, it looks as if the Las Vegas massacre was likely a jihad attack. But since that doesn’t fit the establishment media narrative, or the agenda of all too many in law enforcement, don’t expect it to be announced forthrightly by any authorities anytime soon, if ever.