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Democratic Congressman Says Obama Should Have Attacked ISIS After Orlando Massacre

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ CAROLYN KASTER
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ CAROLYN KASTER

During a radio appearance yesterday, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) argued that the United States should have struck against ISIS following a mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub — a shooting that had little, if any, actual connection to the terrorist organization.

“I would’ve like to see a pronounced effort right after Orlando, because they [ISIS] called for this, they struck American citizens, and we should have a show of force to correspond to that, to show them a message,” Lynch said.

Shooter Omar Mateen’s affiliation with ISIS is shaky at best. Although he pledged allegiance to ISIS during 911 calls, FBI Director James Comey says Mateen also claimed solidarity with the Boston Marathon bombers and a Florida man who fought in Syria with al-Nusra.

Al-Nusra and ISIS are actively fighting against each other.

Furthermore, in 2013, Mateen claimed to be a member of Hezbollah, which is in conflict with both ISIS and al-Nusra.

Several hours after the shooting, an ISIS-affiliated news agency alleged the attack had been carried out by an ISIS fighter and Islamic State radio later called him “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.” As Rukmini Callimachi from the New York Times pointed out, ISIS news agencies most likely waited to release their statements until they knew whether the shooter had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

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“They’re very serious about their mission, these extremists,” Lynch said. “And we seem to be less committed. I would just say we need to get over it. It’s who they are. Let’s go get ’em. I think they would much more appreciate a forthright effort to defeat these people.”

Conservatives’ Obsession With The Orlando Shooter’s Allegiance Is Missing Some Key ContextConservatives are blasting Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision not to release ISIS-related statements made by the…thinkprogress.orgLynch also addressed President Obama’s decision not to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” He said that Obama speaks through “a political-correctness screen … It just frustrates me that we’re having that discussion rather than trying to deal with the underlying issue.”

He added, “If you can’t even call them by their name, what does that say about the rest of your effort? I would just say we have to get over it, that’s who they are, that’s what they are.”

Obama has come under recent criticism, most notably by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, for not referring to ISIS as radical Islamic extremists. In a press release issued after the attack in Orlando, Trump said, “In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam.’ For that reason alone, he should step down.”

The president rebutted his critics in a recent speech: “What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above.”

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“Look, I’m not the president’s speech writer,” Lynch said in the interview. “His concern is that he might inflame or offend the moderate, law-abiding, wider Muslim community,” Lynch said. “I don’t think they’re going to be inflamed by someone using the term Islamic extremist. That’s a game we play in this country. The Middle East, they’re not hampered by this. They’re dealing with the real world.”

Lynch, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, is seeking reelection in 2016.

Rachel Cain is an intern at ThinkProgress.