Washington: Al-Qaeda has praised Orlando gunman Omar Mateen but criticised him for targeting gays, saying lone wolf jihadists should attack white Americans and avoid minorities so that no one mistakes their terror assaults for hate crimes.
In an article in the latest edition of its online magazine Inspire, Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), called for more "self-directed" Muslim terrorists to kill in America.
In the article, titled 'Inspire guide: Orlando operation', the terror group tells terrorists to "avoid targeting places and crowds where minorities are generally found" because if gays or Latinos appear to be the targets, "the federal government will be the one taking full responsibility."
The online magazine, praises the Orlando attack but instructs terrorists to target "Anglo-Saxons", Fox News reported.
In the June 12 attack in Orlando, Omar Mateen massacred 49 people and injured 53 inside a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Although Mateen, who was later killed by police, told hostage negotiators he pledged allegiance to ISIS, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch has characterised the attack as a hate crime against gays.
"I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation," Lynch told reporters last week.
"People often act out of more than one motivation. This was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate," she had said.
Although Al-Qaeda does not take credit for Mateen's attack in the online article, it urges more "lone wolves" to take up arms.
Jihadists should target "areas where the Anglo-Saxon community is generally concentrated," it states.
"This class of the American community is the majority and it is the one that is in the American leadership," it says.
Al Qaeda is "very carefully threading a needle" by endorsing the attack while criticising Mateen's target selection, said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for Clarion Project, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks the international terror threat.
"This is Al Qaeda's way of asserting itself above ISIS in the wake of its competitor's success," Mauro was quoted as saying.
Inspire magazine often exploits terror attacks in the West and makes threats against Europe and the United States. While the terror group responsible for 9/11 has been overshadowed by rival ISIS in recent years, it praised Mateen for his monstrous act.