Promising to institute immigration policies that serve "the interests and values of America," Republican Donald Trump said he will suspend immigration from countries that have a history of accommodating terrorist factions if elected president.
"We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer," Trump said on June 13, when he delivered a speech in response to the previous day's attack on an Orlando nightclub that left 50 people dead, CNBC reports.
The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was the American-born son of Afghan immigrant parents, according to law enforcement. Before carrying out the shooting he reportedly phoned 911 and told operators he was pledging loyalty to ISIS. Then he walked into Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, at around 2 a.m. and started gunning down the club's patrons.
Later that same day, the FBI said Mateen had been on the bureau's radar, and agents had interviewed him in 2013 and 2014 after concerned coworkers said he made comments supportive of terrorism, the New York Times reports. However, agents did not tag him as a threat, and Mateen was able to legally purchase the weapons he used to carry out his rampage on June 12.
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"We're importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president," Trump said, per CNBC. "Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we're letting into America."
Trump reserved some of his harshest criticism for President Barack Obama, who said after the shooting that authorities had "reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer" despite reports that Mateen had name-dropped ISIS.
A CBS News report revealed that Mateen's father, Seddique Mir Mateen, is the host of a TV show aimed at ethnic Afghans and Muslims in the U.S., and Seddique himself told CBS that "God will punish those involved in homosexuality."
The Republican nominee blasted Obama for refusing to use labels like "Islamic terrorism" and seemed to suggest Obama was reluctant to go after terrorists for fear of insulting Muslims, CNBC notes.
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"We're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind," Trump said. "And the something else in mind, you know, people can't believe it. People cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can't even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There's something going on, it's inconceivable."