Summary of eRumor:
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock converted to Islam six months before opening fire on a crowd gathered at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500 others.
Authorities have not identified a motive for Stephen Paddock for the Las Vegas mass shooting on October 1, 2017. The idea that shooter Stephen Paddock converted to Islam six months before the shooting is one of many unproven theories about what drove Paddock to kill.
Immediately after the deadly Las Vegas shooting that left 58 dead and 489 injured, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. Translated, the message states:
“Attacker of the #Las_Vegas shooting is a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to targeting coalition countries … Attacker of Las Vegas converted several months ago.”
The FBI and Stephen Paddock’s brother were quick to dispute claims that Paddock is tied to ISIS. On October 2nd, an FBI special agent said there was “no connection” between the attack and ISIS. Paddock’s brother also dispelled those rumors, stating this brother didn’t have strong (if any) political or religious views, saying “it makes no sense.”
But ISIS persisted, releasing a video insisting that Stephen Paddock was a “secret” convert to the terrorist group that states:
“After careful observation of gatherings of the Crusaders in the U.S. city of Las Vegas, one of the soldiers of the caliphate (Abu Abd al-Bar al-Amriki, may Allah accept him) lay hidden armed with machine guns and various ammunition in a hotel overlooking a concert. He opened fire on their gathering, leaving 600 killed and injured, until his ammunition was finished and he departed as a martyr.”
Then, on October 5th, ISIS released an infographic that aimed to provide details about how Stephen Paddock carried out the deadly shooting. The graphic, titled “The Invasion of Las Vegas,” identifies Paddock as “Brother Abu Abdul Bar” and said the “soldier of the caliphate” attacked 22,000 Americans at the concert: “Brother Abu Abdul Bar stationed himself in a room on the 32nd floor of a hotel overlooking the concert and opened fire continuously on the crowds using 23 firearms and more than 2,000 bullets and died, may God accept him, after running out of ammunition.”
Paddock’s alleged ties to ISIS resurfaced yet again on October 8th when the U.K.’s Independent cited unnamed investigators who said Paddock had visited the Middle East multiple times while on cruises in recent years:
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had visited the Middle East during a series of cruises, police have revealed.
Investigators remain stumped as to Paddock’s motives but said he visited the contentious region on a cruise.
He also took at least 11 other cruises to other destinations over the last several years, the AP reported.
The region, where Isis and other jihadi groups have a presence in some areas, may be of interest to security services because of speculation Paddock became radicalised.
However, the FBI has steadfastly denied claims that Stephen Paddock is linked to ISIS. The online publication Foreign Affairs provides further insight, noting that Paddock didn’t leave behind clear evidence linking the attack to ISIS — a key requirement in ISIS propaganda:
There has been some doubt, however, as to the veracity of the group’s claim, given that Paddock did not provide evidence demonstrating his connection to ISIS. ISIS’ propaganda instructs those who carry out attacks in the West to explicitly link themselves to the group. “Otherwise,” as propagandists wrote in the October 2014 issue of ISIS’ flagship publication, Dabiq, “crusader media makes such attacks appear to be random killings.” Such pledges have come in various forms.
In the end, Stephen Paddock’s motive for the deadly Las Vegas mass shooting isn’t known. Claims that Paddock converted to Islam six months earlier and carried out the attack on behalf of ISIS is one theory — but FBI has consistently denied that Paddock is tied to ISIS.
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