No, Orlando Massacre Was Not Predicted by ISIS Three Days Beforehand

A headline from Gateway Pundit:

ISIS Announced Florida Threat THREE Days Ago: “We Will Attack Florida”

The story has gained a certain amount of attention on social media; the implication is that this is pertinent information relating to Omar Mateen’s massacre in Orlando. However, as we’ve come to expect from Jim Hoft (“the dumbest man on the internet”), the story is an unhappy and unhelpful mix of misinformation and attention-seeking sensationalism. And it’s not a great surprise to see that the Shoebats are involved.

Here’s the actual source, Vocativ, on 8 June:

A pro-ISIS “hacking” group calling itself the United Cyber Caliphate distributed its latest “kill” list this week. The group claims the list includes names, addresses, and email addresses belonging to 8,318 people, making it one of the longest target lists ISIS-affiliated groups have distributed.

In a post Vocativ uncovered on the messaging app Telegram that was written in both English and Arabic, the United Cyber Caliphate called on its supporters to “follow” those listed and “kill them strongly to take revenge for Muslims.”

Most of the names and the accompanying addresses listed appear to belong to people in the United States, Australia, and Canada. Out of 7,848 people identified as being in the U.S. alone, 1,445 were listed as having addresses in California, 643 in Florida, 341 in Washington, 333 in Texas, 331 in Illinois, and 290 in New York. Another 312 names and addresses allegedly belong to people in Canada, while 69 allegedly belong to people in Australia. Another 39 are affiliated with the U.K. and the rest are listed with addresses in Belgium, Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago.

In other words, a group linked to ISIS wants to incite targeted assassinations around the world. Florida is disproportionately represented, but there is nothing in the above which can reasonably be read as a prediction of the atrocity that unfolded at the Pulse nightclub.

What happened was that Florida’s CBS 12 picked up on the Florida angle in the Vocativ article for a follow-up piece the next day:

ISIS ‘kill list’ targets Palm Beach, Treasure Coast residents: Ex-FBI agent

A pro-Isis group has released a hit list with the names of more than 8,000 peoplemostly Americans.

More than 600-people live in Florida, and one security expert believes that many of those targeted live in Palm Beach County and on the Treasure Coast.

[Stuart] Kaplan believes civilians from our community are on the list.

“I would suspect a head of a hospital or, perhaps, a local community leader…”

Kaplan is concerned the list will inspire “lone wolf” style attacks.

“If in fact a sympathizer gets ahold of this list and is readily able to identify you as being his neighbor and, then, decides (because they’re a sympathizer) to go out and do something horrific to you, there is no way to calculate the potential or to prevent that.”

The list has not yet been made public.

That article was pasted onto Walid Shoebat’s website by his son Theodore, under the heading “Major Muslim Terrorists Makes This Declaration To All Americans: We Are Coming After You, We Will Attack Florida And Slaughter Americans There”. Following the massacre, Walid Shoebat then published a new post, this time entitled “We Warned You Three Days Ago That A Massacre By Muslims In Florida Was Coming And No One Listened.”

It should be remembered that Walid Shoebat used to be touted around churches and “anti-Jihad” conferences as a supposed expert on Islamic terrorism, due a supposed affiliation with the PLO in the 1970s before he became a Christian (he still gets some gigs, such as addressing police officers at Jersey Shore in 2015). It appears he’s trying to retain his supposed expert status by suggesting that by cutting-and-pasting a news report and adding a more lurid headline he somehow issued an expert “warning” that we all should have heeded.

The opportunism is obvious and desperate. In recent months, the Shoebat operation has moved to the fringes: father and son now espouse a traditionalist form of Catholicism that is contemptuous of Evangelicals (as well as just about everyone else), and Theodore in particular is now notorious for his calls for gay people (and their supporters) to be killed (on Orlando, Walid sneers that “the only ones moaning over fifty gays slaughtered are liberals, idiots and gay lovers”).

Meanwhile, Shoebat’s sometime associate Robert Spencer has also attempted to find an angle from which he can appear to have something knowledgeable to say:

Islamic State issued “kill list” including 600 Florida residents three days before Orlando gay club jihad massacre

“Kaplan is concerned the list will inspire ‘lone wolf’ style attacks.” Did Omar Mateen see this list and find it inspiring?

Spencer then pastes the CBS 12 article down to the “lone wolf” comment, leaving out the details that follow. It’s one thing to speculate reasonably based on provisional information, but that is not what’s happening here – such reasonable speculation would require balancing and assessing probabilities, not just posting a wild guess with a question mark at the end for insurance. This is charlatanism.

Footnote

One site is claiming that “Unconfirmed news reports are out this evening with shocking details  about how ISIS’s reported news agency Amaq News Agency noted that ISIS was targeting Florida three days before the massive attack”. That seems to be a confusion between Vocativ‘s report on 8 June and the Amaq News Agency stating that ISIS was taking credit for the nightclub attack after the event.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *