Trump on Sunday called racial profiling of Muslims “common sense” as a strategy to prevent violence in America although his proposed policies would prove ineffective, experts say.
“I think profiling is something that we’re gonna have to start thinking about as a country,” he said in an interview with CBS’s Face The Nation. “I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense. We have to use our heads.”
Trump called for this very same concept last year when he said he would consider making Muslim citizens register in a national database and havethem carry special identification. He has also repeatedly called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and even said he would consider banning Muslims who are already citizens from being allowed in the country.
Omar Mateen, a Muslim who was born in the United States, shot and killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
In response, Trump further reiterated his earlier calls for the surveillance of mosques around the country. When asked by interviewer John Dickerson how he would “respectfully” do this, Trump said, “You do as they used to do in New York, prior to this mayor dismantling.”
In the early 2000s, New York implemented a controversial program where undercover police officers went to Muslim neighborhoods and spied on residents. However, the program proved to be ineffective. It was disbanded in 2014 and resulted in no leads on any potential terrorism threats, The Associated Press reported in 2012. Thomas Galati, chief of intelligence for the New York Police Department, confirmed that no cases came out of the program over at least the course of six years.
“I never made a lead from the rhetoric that came from a Demographics [Unit] report, and I’m here since 2006,” he said. “I don’t recall other ones prior to my arrival. Again, there’s always a possibility. I am not aware of any.”
In fact, the program caused harm in the community, according to a representative from the Arab American Association of New York, who said the program “created psychological warfare in our community.”
Authorities do not believe that Mateen, who died the night of the shooting in a standoff with police, was a member of any terror organization but rather acted on his own accord as a “lone wolf” like other mass shooters.
Mateen had previously been investigated by the FBI for possible terrorist ties, but both investigations were closed when no connections between Mateen and extremists were found. Director James Comey said the FBI was working to “look hard at our own work to see whether there is something we should have done differently.”
“So far, the honest answer is: I don’t think so,” he said. He also said that the FBI has not found evidence pointing to a “plot directed from outside the United States.”
Dina Temple-Raston, NPR’s counter-terrorism correspondent, also explained over the weekend that, based on Mateen’s pattern of behavior, officials and investigators are becoming “increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little or maybe even nothing to do with ISIS.”
Mateen allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack but it is not likely he actually had ties to the group. He also previously declared loyalty to both Sunni and Shiite despite these groups being virtually complete opposites and in fact in conflict with one another as well as extremist group Al-Qaida. According to Temple-Raston, though, his declaration to ISIS was likely a “cover story or maybe a story of convenience” or even a way to publicize the tragedy. During the attack, Mateen was checking social media to see if the shooting was getting attention.
Daniel Byman, a researcher for the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute, also explained that the ISIS “brand” holds a substantial amount of power.
“ISIS is a brand, as well as an organization, and that brand has power,” he said. “It can make you feel bigger, more important.”
Temple-Raston also explained that Mateen’s profile fits that of a typical mass shooter.
“He was bullied as a kid in school. He had well-documented behavioral problems. He was aggressive toward other kids,” she said. “As he got older, things didn’t get much better. He took steroids. He jumped from job to job. He had a history of domestic violence. And all these things together fit into a mass shooter’s profile.”
Trump also called for members of the Muslim community to report people who they believe are radicalizing. However, investigators say no warning signs existed another reason they do not believe ISIS played a role in the attack.
After conducting numerous interviews with people who knew Mateen well, Temple-Raston said, investigators have “yet to find any indication that he became noticeably more religious” a major indicator of radicalization.
“He was still going to the same mosque,” she said. “The way he dressed didn’t change. His relationship with his family hadn’t changed in any way. And these are all typically warning signs that parents and friends and educators are told to look for if they’re worried someone they’re close to is radicalizing.”
While “this isn’t science,” she said, ISIS was likely not linked to the attack. As far as a motive, Temple-Raston said it’s “too early in the investigation” to say for sure but officials are “leaning [toward] a particular narrative.”
“And that narrative is that Mateen may have had some problems with his sexuality, maybe even had some latent attraction to men, and he lashed out at the gay community as a result,” she said.