- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said he’d be “shocked” if there weren’t others involved in some way with the deadly terrorist attack in Orlando over the weekend, saying radicalization doesn’t happen overnight.

“Speaking of myself, I’ll be shocked if there weren’t others involve with this,” Rep. Chris Stewart, Utah Republican, said on radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show. “I’ll be even more surprised if there weren’t some people around him that weren’t, to some level, aware of his intentions and could have warned us.”

Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning, killing 49 people and wounding more than 50 others. He had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group during a 911 call.

“The radicalization is something that you know, again, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Mr. Stewart said. “Now if someone … is deranged, [you] have mental health issues, there’s evidence of that, generally. But the position I’m taking on this is that someone doesn’t wake up and have this type of evil intent without that emerging over time, and generally being fostered by someone.”

Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday that they know of no accomplices at this point but that the investigation continues, and that there’s no indication at this point the attack was “terrorist-directed.”

“I need to be careful in some of the things that we receive in our briefings, but once again, it would be surprising to all of us if this individual didn’t, if this didn’t take time, and if there weren’t others involved in recruiting and training, and soliciting his help, and as you said, using the word grooming him as they moved him towards this type of an activity,” Mr. Stewart said.

The FBI had flagged Mateen on more than one occasion, but he was removed from a watch list after a period of time.

Mr. Stewart said he didn’t want to blame the FBI, saying they have an “enormous challenge.”

“My heavens, there’s hundreds of these individuals that they’re trying to monitor,” he said. “And I think … you and I agree that you can’t arrest someone until they commit a crime.”

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