According to Donald Trump, Mexicans who come here are rapists, but it turns out that sexual assaults, including the most heinous, are committed by his fellow citizens. Now, with the backdrop of the Orlando massacre, he insists that entry to the United States should be banned for all Muslims. What he appears to not understand is that each terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the last 15 years has been carried out by Americans or legal residents.
It is true that the terrorists who attacked Washington and New York in 2001 were 19 Arabs born abroad, but the rest have been citizens from this country. This was the case with the Tsarnaev brothers, who detonated bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and Nidal Hasan, the Army soldier who killed 13 at the Fort Hood, Texas military base four years prior. And what about the attack in San Bernardino, California last December when a couple killed 14 at a Christmas party?
Other cases of similar massacres, but not linked by authorities to extremist ideologies, were the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, where 32 students were killed, while 26 others, mostly children, were killed at the hands of a disturbed individual at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Massacres all carried out by criminals born here.
The shooter who, early Sunday morning, opened fire in a Florida gay nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53 more in the worst mass shooting in the history of this nation, was another American. The shooter was Omar Mateen, born in New York just like Trump, to parents from Afghanistan who moved to Florida in 1991, where the young man grew up like any other, playing basketball and video games.
Mateen, 29 and the twice-married father of a three-year-old, with a degree in criminal justice, was a violent individual full of contradictions and hatred toward homosexuals. He was targeted by the FBI for possible ties with terrorists, but they were never able to prove anything. In fact, it remains uncertain if his acts were the product of a deranged mind, guided by religion, or political ideology. Authorities have a case of new terrorism inspired perhaps by the Islamic State, but they do not believe it was a direct order by the extremist group.
According to Peter Bergen, author of several books on terrorism, there is no evidence that he received training in Syria or elsewhere, like the terrorists did who killed 130 in Paris last November or those in Brussels who killed 32 in March. The intentions of lone wolves such as Mateen are difficult to detect because there are no email or phone communications that could be intercepted by intelligence work.
Mateen bragged of having contact with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, opposing radical groups, and twice traveled to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca, a pilgrimage that, because more than 11,000 Muslim-Americans take it each year, did not raise any flags. His first wife claimed that he had homosexual tendencies but was ashamed of them.
According to Bergen, in 2015 alone the government investigated 600 cases of local terrorists. These are young adults with an average age of 28 being indoctrinated and trained through their computers or cell phones who no longer have to travel to be trained by radical groups inspiring them to commit violent acts.
Unlike what Trump says, the local terrorist does not come from afar. He may be your neighbor or live in the middle-class suburbs, educated and supposedly with great love for his country and the values of the society in which he lives. He may look exactly like any other citizen, fit in easily, and go unnoticed by the community before acting.
The vast majority of the two and a half million Muslim-Americans are good people who love and identify with the country where they were born. The sad thing is that you only need one individual, crazy and resentful, to cause tragedies such as the one in Pulse, the dance club that was celebrating its Fiesta Latina.