White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he "clearly meant Orlando" after citing three times in two days a nonexistent terror attack in "Atlanta."
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve LeValley, there has not been a terror attack in the city since February 1997, when convicted serial bomber Eric Rudolph blew up a lesbian nightclub, injuring four people. Rudolph was also convicted in the bombing of an Atlanta-area abortion clinic in Jan. 1997, as well as the July 1996 bombing at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park during the summer Olympic games. Seven people were injured in the abortion clinic bombing and two people were killed in the Centennial Park bombing, according to CNN.
But the city has not experienced any terror-related incident since the Feb. 1997 attack that occurred exactly 20 years ago this month. When it comes to radical Islamic terror attacks, specifically, Atlanta Police Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy said there is "no record" of that ever happening in Atlanta.
Nevertheless, Spicer referenced the mysterious "Atlanta" terror attack three times in just two days recently, the first such instance occurring Jan. 29 during an interview with ABC's "This Week."
"What do we say to the family who loses somebody over a terroristic (sic) -- to whether it's Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber? Those people, each of whom had gone out to a country and then come back," Spicer said, according to a transcript of the show.
Then, the very next day, Spicer again cited Atlanta as one of the U.S. cities that was recently struck by terrorists.
"Too many of these cases that have happened — whether you're talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta, Boston. Would you wait until you do? The answer is we act now to protect the future," Spicer said Jan. 30 on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Spicer's third and final reference to Atlanta in the context of domestic terrorism came Jan. 30 during the daily White House press briefing.
"I don't think you have to look any further than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino to ask if we can go further," Spicer told reporters, according to CNN.
The three separate references left reporters scratching their heads for days as to why Spicer kept saying Atlanta had been the site of recent terror, when in fact it had not. But in an email to ABC News Wednesday, Spicer said he "clearly meant Orlando" when he said Atlanta.
Forty-nine people were killed and more than 50 other were injured when 29-year-old gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando's Pulse nightclub in June 2016, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Mateen, who was killed after an hours-long standoff with police, was a U.S. citizen but both of his parents were born in Afghanistan.
The Orlando attack came just six month after the San Bernardino, California, terror attack, in which 28-year-old Syed Farook and 27-year-old Tashfeen Malik, both Muslims, opened fire on a social services facility, killing 14 people and injuring 17 others.
Spicer's "Atlanta" comments came on the same weekend that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, faced criticism after citing the "Bowling Green Massacre," which never happened, during an interview with MSNBC. Conway later said she misspoke and was referring to the two Iraqis,Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, both of whom came to the U.S. in 2009 as refugees and settled in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The two men were later sentenced to prison for aiding terrorism groups and attempting to kill U.S. soldiers who were serving in the Middle East.
Former President Barack Obama ordered a review of the U.S.'s vetting of refugees coming from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia in response to the two men being able to enter the country. Trump's controversial travel ban, issued by executive order, includes the same seven countries, but is now in legal limbo as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to determine the order's fate in a much anticipated decision expected Thursday.
(H/T: Washington Post)