Florida gun store owner Robbie Abell reported to the authorities a suspicious man — later revealed as radical Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen — five weeks before the Orlando nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead and over fifty injured.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Abell found Mateen suspicious for numerous different reasons. He asked unusual questions regarding ammunition and body armor, and then began speaking Arabic during a phone call. This combination served as a major red flag for Abell, who quickly notified the authorities. Sadly, it seems nothing was done about it.
The store owner stated, “The questions he was asking were not the normal questions a normal person would be asking… He just seemed very odd.” This is the kind of description that definitely should have sent the authorities reeling, and yet Mateen was not investigated as a result. Which “authorities” notified have not been revealed, but clearly nothing substantial was done on their end.
This is especially disheartening since we now know that the FBI had investigated Mateen multiple times in the past, believing him to be a potential terrorist. Why they never followed up on these investigations is genuinely baffling. Time and time again, people have kept quiet about suspicious behavior for fear of discrimination. After a tragedy, those same people are likely to discover just how absurd that fear is.
Being labeled a bigot or an Islamophobe is a small price to pay to potentially save dozens of lives. Unfortunately, in the case of Abell, reporting suspicious activity wasn’t good enough. The authorities ignored him. We have to demand more out of those who have sworn to keep us safe. They should no longer walk on eggshells to avoid hurt feelings or awkward interactions.
There is an undeniable problem in America — a problem fueled by hatred at the hands of radical Islamic fundamentalists — and we have a duty to protect ourselves and each other from its consequences.
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