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Pulse Shooter Hailed ISIS Leader Who Just Died of Suicide


The gunman mentioned Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by name.

The ISIS leader who killed himself and three children this week during a raid by British and U.S. forces was the man to whom the Pulse shooter pledged allegiance.

It was on the night of June 11, 2016 that a shooter entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, carrying a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, with which he immediately opened fire.

During a call with a 911 operator during the standoff, the shooter said, "I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of the Islamic State."

He also claimed that the attack was prompted by a May 6, 2016 U.S. bombing strike that killed ISIS leader Abu Waheeb.

Prior to the shooting, the shooter had taken to Facebook to express anger over American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. It's unclear why he targeted Pulse -- evidence from his browsing history suggest that he searched for "downtown Orlando nightclubs" and drove past Disney Springs, then traveled between Pulse and the Eve Orlando Nightclub before finally making his choice.

Some in the community have said that the shooter was often seen at the nightclub, and may have messaged them on hookup apps, but FBI investigators found no evidence to back that up.

As for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the man to whom the shooter declared his allegiance, little is known about his early life. He's thought to have been a relatively quiet religious man for most of his life, possibly radicalized while in detention at the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

Following that, Baghdadi oversaw genocides in Iraq, sex slavery, organized rape, and executions, earning a reputation for excessive brutality. Donald Trump said of him that he was "a sick and depraved man, and now he's dead."

The site of the Pulse nightclub is currently in the process of being transformed into a memorial and museum, projected to open next year.

RELATED | Pulse Survivor Delivers Speech to Congress Urging Gun Reform

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Matt Baume