ISIS on Monday claimed responsibility for a shooting that killed 50 people at a nightclub in the U.S. city of Orlando, saying in a radio bulletin that it was carried out by “one of the soldiers of the caliphate.”
“Allah allowed Omar Mateen, one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America, to carry out an attack entering a crusader gathering in a night club… in Orlando in Florida, killing and wounding more than 100 of them,” a bulletin from Al-Bayan radio said.
The jihadist group declared its “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq in 2014.
The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq said on Sunday that the attack on the gay nightclub had been “carried out by an ISIS fighter.”
U.S. media reported that the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year old American citizen from Afghan origin, had pledged allegiance to the jihadist group ISIS.
The FBI has admitted that Mateen, who was born in New York, had previously been investigated, but cleared, for ties to a U.S. suicide bomber.
The worst mass shooting in U.S. history left 50 people dead, in addition to the shooter, and wounded 53 others. Mateen was shot and killed by police who stormed the club with armored cars after a three-hour siege.
Family and friends of victims trapped in the nightclub waited anxiously on Monday to find out whether their loved ones were among the victims.
The FBI and other law enforcement authorities were poring over evidence that could explain the motives for the rampage, a massacre that President Barack Obama denounced as an act of terror and hate.
Nearly 24 hours after the rampage ended, authorities had publicly named only 21 of the victims, half of whom were in their 20s.
Family and friends waited for news outside a center in Orlando where authorities were gathering details about people still missing.
Mateen was a security guard with a company called G4S. In a 2012 newsletter, the firm identified him as working in West Palm Beach. In a statement sent Sunday to the Palm Beach Post, the company confirmed that he had been an employee since September 2007. State records show that Mateen had held a firearms license since at least 2011.