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FBI: Omar Mateen Claimed to Be an 'Islamic Soldier'

Ron Hopper

The debate over what motivated the shooter in Orlando — hate, terrorism, or both — wasn’t resolved today by the FBI releasing a timeline of what happened on June 12. But it’s clear how Omar Mateen wanted the moment remembered.

The FBI has conducted over 500 interviews, gathered more than 600 pieces of evidence from the Pulse nightclub, and received thousands of tips. Still there’s no sign he was directed by any terrorist organization, the FBI reaffirmed on Monday.

“We currently have no evidence that he was directed by a foreign terrorist group, but was radicalized domestically,” said Ron Hopper, the assistant special agent from the FBI who is in charge of the FBI joint terrorism task force doing the investigating.

On whether Mateen himself was gay or bisexual, “Those allegations are still being vetted out as we speak and there’s no determination to be made at this time,” said Hopper. 

In the transcript of a 50-second call to 911, Omar Mateen pledges allegiance to ISIS, and although the FBI originally excluded the exact wording to prevent glorification of people Mateen mentions, it released the full transcript later on Monday. The FBI boiled it all down by saying Mateen claimed to be an “Islamic soldier.”

OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
OD: What?
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD: What’s your name?
OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to [omitted].
OD: Ok, What’s your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].
OD: Alright, where are you at?
OM: In Orlando.
OD: Where in Orlando?
[End of call.]

Hopper said the FBI won’t release a tape of the call, or of the calls for help made by the people who'd gone to Latin night at the LGBT club and were desperate for help inside the nightclub. But he’s heard the call by Mateen himself and said the killer made them “in a chilling calm and deliberate manner.” 

The Orlando Police Department reports that officers arrived on the scene, reported shots were fired, then immediately entered the club, at 2:08 a.m. and started shooting at Mateen. He reportedly retreated into the bathrooms and held a number of people hostage. Then he made the call to 911 at 2:35 a.m.

As reported before, Mateen had three subsequent conversations with negotiators. 

“You already know what I did,” the shooter told negotiators. He threatened them with a lie about explosives, saying, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.”

Mateen believed there would be more like him coming. “In the next few days,” he said, “you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.”

The SWAT team went in at 5:02 a.m., exploding a hole in the wall of the club and using an armored vehicle to press inside. Mateen was reported dead at 5:15 a.m. 

The Orlando Police Department chief repeatedly said that during the three hours after Mateen had been chased into the back room with hostages, there were no shots fired inside the club. Meanwhile, police scattered across the club and rescued people, even breaking through an air conditioning unit to evacuate eight people from a dressing room.

“I am very confident they saved many, many, many lives that night,” said chief John Mina. 

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