15th June 2016
Situation Summary. In the early hours of 12 June 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire in the Pulse nightclub, Orlando Florida. In initial reporting at least 50 people were killed and 53 injured. Media reports prior to the incident, Mateen called emergency services and pledged his allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Islamic State (IS) has also claimed the attack through their news agency, making it the first time they have claimed an attack on US soil. Witnesses also reported the shooter referenced the 2013 Boston Marathon bombers during the attack. Mateen was holding hostages in the club when a Police SWAT team was sent in at 5am and he was shot and killed.
Terrorism. IS has encouraged lone-wolf attacks on US soil, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Although US law enforcement has not confirmed the shooting as a terrorist attack, the FBI has announced they are investigating the incident as such. The shooter had also been known to the FBI since 2013. There remains a high threat of lone-wolf attacks across the United States and towards western targets worldwide.
Crime. Gun crime is an increasing problem in America and reforms in gun control law are hampered by political interest groups. Mateen was able to purchase two firearms legally in the last week according to the FBI. Mateen’s father claims his sons actions were not religiously motivated, but were rather a hate crime due to his son’s reaction to a gay couple several months prior. The number of mass shootings has increased in recent years, especially on school campuses. Gun control is a politically divisive issue in the US and is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Sources: BBC News Link Daily Mail Link.
Solace Global Comment. Lone-wolf terror attacks can occur in many forms and are therefore difficult to predict. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the San Bernadino, California shootings in 2015 are examples of previous attacks. Solace Global Intelligence has issued a number of travel advisories within recent weeks warning of intent by both Islamic State and Al Qaeda to conduct attacks over the Ramadan period.
Practical Travel Advice. Mass shootings are increasingly common in the USA and elsewhere. It is advisable to be informed of sensible actions which can be undertaken to improve safety. If in a location where gunfire is heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. If unable to do so, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Inform emergency services or someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. The British Government currently advises those caught up in incidents of this nature to adopt the RUN HIDE TELL guidance. See full details at this Link
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