The ISIS terrorist group seems to have no qualms (unsurprisingly) about taking advantage of the recent chaos caused by the Las Vegas shooting.
According to the Daily Mail, ISIS has been quadrupling down on their assertion that Stephen Paddock was radicalized and had become one of their agents. Despite experts questioning the validity of these claims, it’s striking how hard ISIS is pushing their claim–whether truthful or otherwise.
The Islamic State released a new video in which they bragged that the Las Vegas shootings were a revenge massacre for the US attacks against their caliphate. The group claimed the act of the shooter–the killing of 58 people and the injury of over 500 at the country music concert–was because he had been radicalized and was a soldier for ISIS.
However, experts feel that these statements are more of a desperate propaganda campaign than anything else. FBI officials have rebuked this sentiment, saying there was little to no suggestion that he had any affiliation with terrorist organizations.
“If he had converted, somebody somewhere would know. If it’s true he would have had to have some contact with ISIS [and] it would strike me that this guy would have had some sort of contact, some sort of electronic signals that authorities will dig into over the coming days,” said one expert on radicalization when ISIS first claimed responsibility for the event.
Regardless, the video in question features excerpts from an eye-witness testimony regarding the attack, as well as statements from the Las Vegas sheriff and an old recording by a well known jihadi executioner.
Aside from a speech warning of impending bloodshed that will engulf Western nations that face off against ISIS, a written message appeared on the screen. It declared that the film is “a message to America and her allies from the Islamic State,” and that “as you kill us in our country, we will kill you in your country.”
The video also called out Donald Trump specifically for refusing to heed their warnings. Considering the president’s promises to destroy the Islamic State, it’s not surprising that he was specifically called out in the propaganda video.
Regardless, few are taking their claim of responsibility seriously. “We have no idea what his belief system was,” said Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo. His own brother said that he was “not an avid gun guy at all,” with “no religious affiliation, no political affiliation” or any history of mental illness, according to The Independent.
The specifics regarding Paddock’s demise seem to break the pattern regarding ISIS extremist attacks. In most cases, the responsible terrorists in ISIS-inspired attacks in the West have explicitly attributed their attacks to the terrorist group or have had a history of correspondence/online activity that suggests their involvement or sympathy with the group. None of these were found in Paddock’s case — so far.
ISIS is claiming responsibility. Do you believe they are involved?
However, this assertion, even if false, could help bolster ISIS’ attempt to terrorize the US amidst recent territorial losses in Iraq and Syria. It’s the kind of psychological tactic that reveals just how desperate the group is concerning their struggles against the Trump administration’s efforts to eliminate the caliphate.
As investigators continue to look into the potential motives of the shooter, it’s quite certain that him being a radicalized ISIS soldier isn’t one of them.
Only time will tell what his reason, if any, was for this horrendous act.