Las Vegas Shooter: Terrorist or Lone Wolf?

by Ijaz Ahmed, PhD

Reading about the shocking and horrifying shooting that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night struck me at my core. This has been ruled the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the oldest Muslim organization in the United States, my heart and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families. May God bring them comfort during this difficult time.

With over 50 dead and hundreds injured, it’s scary knowing that this happened on US soil, right here at home. In the past, we have faced similar incidents that have tested our patience and unity. We have always come out stronger and better. For example, after the devastating floods in Texas and Florida, Americans put aside their differences and banded together to help one another.

The exact motive of the shooter in Las Vegas is still unclear, but some media outlets are reporting that ISIS has claimed responsibility despite a lack of evidence. It is wholly irresponsible and hypocritical for the media to report like this. Why do the main stream media spend hours fact-checking the president’s 140-character tweets, but arbitrarily link ISIS and this attack without evidence?

ISIS, or Daesh, loves media attention and bringing them into the spotlight only legitimizes their evil campaign. In fact, even referring to them as an “Islamic” state is also completely irresponsible, given that their actions have nothing to do with the religion of Islam.

Moreover, many news outlets immediately categorized the shooter as a lone wolf. This “lone wolf” gunman massacred over 50 people, and no one cared to label it as domestic terrorism. This was an act of terror and should thus be identified as one.

The sad truth is that whenever the shooter looks like a Muslim, the news headlines read “terrorist” and “police are searching for possible terrorist link.” And when the shooter is black or hispanic, the news headlines read “possibly gang-related.” But when the shooter is white, the headlines read “lone-wolf” or “family man.”

The multiple standards that exist in the media are appalling. It is important for us to call this out every single time it happens and it unfortunately happens more often than we’d like to admit. All main stream media outlets need to work to remove these multiple standards and report the

The hotel where the shots were fired from
The hotel where the shots were fired from

news responsibly and without bias.

His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community said, “There is no doubt that the media plays a huge role in influencing public opinion and so the media should use this power responsibly – as a force for good and as a force for peace.”

As a country, we can come out of this stronger than before. We need to put aside that which divides and realize this simple fact: We are all American and we are all hurting. In the end, I pray and ask God to Bless the United States and bring comfort and peace to the entire nation and the world.

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