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Experts Advisory: Orlando Terrorism Shooter Pledged Allegiance to ISIS

Ray Rivera, left, a DJ at Pulse, is consoled by a friend after an ISIS-inspired shooting left 49 dead and 53 wounded at the nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Photo by Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel)

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 14, 2016) -- On Sunday, June 12, the United States suffered the deadliest mass shooting in history and the worst terror attack since 9/11, as American-born Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The news of the attack has sent shockwaves through the nation, raising concerns about homegrown threats and the massacre of LGBTQ-identifying individuals at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) shortly before carrying an assault rifle and pistol into Pulse at about 2 a.m. where he killed 49 people and wounded at least 53 before being shot by Orlando police.

Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy experts Victor Asal and Brian Nussbaum discussed the attack, and the link between hate and terrorism in U.S. News and World Report.

University at Albany faculty members are available to speak about the incident, the threat posed by domestic terrorists, homeland security practices and the impact of terrorism on LGBTQ-identifying Muslim people around the world.

Experts include:

  • Victor Asal, associate professor of political science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy: Asal is an expert on the interaction of international relations and domestic politics and how this interaction influences ethnic conflict and ethnic terrorism.
  • Courtney D'Allaird, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center: D'Allaird is the founding coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at UAlbany and has done extensive work with college campuses across New York State in order to expand initiatives for LGBTQ* student inclusion. D'Allaird works with college students in transitioning to campus life and provides interactive trainings, programs and class lectures across campus. D'Allaird is a nationally certified peer educator and trainer for NCBI (National Coalition Building Institute), DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) and Safe Space/Zone development.
  • Brian Nussbaum, assistant professor of public administration and policy at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy: Nussbaum is an expert on cybersecurity and cyber threats, terrorism and terrorism analysis, homeland security, risk and intelligence analysis and critical infrastructure protection.
  • Karl Rethemeyer, interim dean, Rockefeller College: Rethemeyer's primary research interest is in social networks, both their impact on social, political, and policy processes, and the methods used to study such networks.

Asal and Rethemeyer have teamed together on a project to enable a better understanding of how terrorist organizations network and function over time. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has launched the Big Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) online platform. The innovative new tool features updated, vetted and sourced narratives, and relationship information and social network data on 50 of the most notorious terrorist organizations in the world since 1998, with additional network information on more than 100 organizations.

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