The father of Pulse shooter Omar Mateen served as an FBI informant up until the month of the June 2016 attack, according to information made public by federal prosecutors --and an FBI Agent on Monday testified in court that the agency considered turning the younger Mateen into an asset as well.
Seddique Mateen (pictured) also came under FBI investigation after the shooting when agents found evidence he'd received a number of money transfers from Turkey and Afghanistan in the months before the attack.
The Pulse attack took place on June 12, 2016, after Omar Mateen entered the club with an assault-style rifle and pistol and started shooting patrons. Mateen died after an hours-long standoff with law enforcement. Besides Mateen, 49 others died in the attack and 53 were injured in the gay bar, which was hosting Latin Night at the time.
The information became public during the trial of Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, who faces charges of aiding terrorism and obstructing justice. Prosecutors on Saturday sent an email to Salman's defense team outlining Seddique Mateen's past involvement with the agency.
"Seddique Mateen was a FBI confidential human source at various points in time between January 2005 and June 2016," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney.
News outlets widely reported after the Pulse attack that Seddique Mateen has been involved in Afghanistani politics and openly criticized the government in Pakistan. He has declared himself the president of a revolutionary government in Afghanistan and remains active on social media, posting a message online about Afghanistan as recently as Sunday.
The email from Sweeney also revealed that in 2012 investigators received a tip that Mateen was actively working toward an action against Pakistan. "On November 1, 2012, an anonymous tip indicated that Seddique Mateen was seeking to raise $50,000-$100,000 via a donation drive to contribute towards an attack against the government of Pakistan," Sweeney's email reads.
Defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case against Salman based on the late revelation of Seddique Mateen's past FBI interactions. "It comes far after a theory of defense has been developed in the absence of all relevant facts," wrote attorneys Fritz Scheller and Charles Swift in a motion for a mistrial of Salman's case. The motion was denied on Monday afternoon, with Judge Paul Byron stating the ongoing case is about Salman, not Seddique Mateen.
Shortly after the public learned the information about the older Mateen's past interactions with the FBI, a witness called by the defense testified the younger Mateen was considered as a potential informant years before his shooting rampage, according to Orlando-based News 6. FBI Special Agent Juvenal Martin investigated Omat Mateen in 2013 and 2014 for allegedly making comments sympathetic to terrorists, including during his time at G4S, the security firm where he worked until his death.
Martin said while investigating Omar Mateen for falsely claiming he had family in Al-Queda, the subject originally denied the accusations then admitted to saying them at work. He could have faced charges of lying to the FBI but did not. Martin also said he considered trying to turn Omar Mateen into an informant like his father.
Outside the courthouse today, Ahmed Bedier of United Voices of America said the revelations show the FBI held responsibility for failing to stop Omar Mateen before the Pulse shooting. He said if Mateen had been convicted of lying to the FBI, he'd have never been able to purchase the Sig Sauer used in the attack. "We should be outraged," Bedier said. "Ask law enforcement how we allowed this to happen."
Seddique Mateen would not speak to The Advocate about today's revelations.
The email from Assistant U.S. Attorney Sweeney, filed two days after prosecutors rested their case against Salman, also revealed the FBI's investigation of Seddique Mateen for money transfers as recently as a week before the Pulse attack.
"During a consent search conducted at Seddique Mateen's residence on June 12, 2016, receipts for money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan were found," Sweeney writes. "The dates of the transfers were between March 16, 2016 and June 5, 2016. As a result of the discovery of these receipts, an FBI investigation into Seddique Mateen was opened. S. Mateen has not been informed by the FBI about the investigation."
FBI officials, after identifying Omar Mateen as the shooter, visited several properties in the wake of the Pulse attack. Salman authorized a consent search of her and her husband's apartment.
Last Wednesday, Omar Mateen's mother Shahla Mateen took the stand, and defense attorneys argue they would have asked her more questions during cross-examination had they known about Seddique Mateen's past interactions. "She denied that her husband had any relationship with the FBI," during cross-examination by Scheller, the defense team writes.
The motion to dismiss comes days after defense attorneys argued Salman should be acquitted because FBI experts could not prove she ever cased the Pulse site with Omar Mateen, despite saying she had been with him a week before the attack when he drove by the club and called it his "target." Judge Paul Byron had scolded prosecutors and investigators for failing to disclose that information before Salman's January indictment.
Shortly after the attack, Seddqiue Mateen spoke with numerous media outlets including The Advocate. He said he held ISIS, the terrorist organization Omar Mateen swore allegiance to during the attack, for radicalizing his child. "My son, the 50 people that are victims, they are all victims of terrorism," he told The Advocate. "I heard from the news he called 911 and said ISIS. That tells you the ideas were from ISIS. Who created ISIS? We are all victims of ISIS, all victims of the terrorist groups."
Salman's defense team, though, says the new revelations offer some evidence Seddique Mateen may hold responsibility himself for the attack. "The Government has prevented the defense from developing and pursuing alternative and viable theories of defense," the defense motion reads, "including, but not limited to the tenets that: 1) Omar Mateen and his father, rather than Ms. Salman, conspired to support ISIS; or 2) the FBI's focus on Ms. Salman was based on its own motive to avoid responsibility for its failures with its own informant, Seddique Mateen, as well as his son. Both theories have strong support based on the Government's belated disclosures. Moreover, both theories would have supported Ms. Salman's defense."