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Did Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Really Pledge Allegiance to Islamic State Group? FBI Won't Say

  • A woman mourns as she sits on the ground and takes part in a vigil for the Pulse night club victims following last week's shooting in Orlando, Florida.

    A woman mourns as she sits on the ground and takes part in a vigil for the Pulse night club victims following last week's shooting in Orlando, Florida. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 June 2016

The Federal agency released transcripts of the 911 call that Omar Mateen made to the police in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released Monday a heavily redacted text of the 911 call that Omar Mateen made to the police shortly before he carried out his attack on the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, florida last week.

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The gunman who killed 49 people at the nightclub threatened to detonate a car rigged with bombs and to strap hostages into explosive vests. "You people are gonna get it, and I'm gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid," Mateen said during one of the calls, according to the FBI transcript.

However, the transcript did not include a pledge of loyalty that authorities say Mateen made to the leader of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Hopper said only a partial transcript was released so as not to "propagate violent rhetoric."

The FBI published the conversations with a dispatcher to fend off criticism that police may have acted too slowly to end a three-hour standoff on June 12 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

"While the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner," FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hopper told a news conference.

Mateen also said he was wearing an explosive vest like the kind "used in France," apparently referring to the deadly assault in Paris last November by extremist militants, the transcript said. No explosive vests or bombs were found in the club or the suspect's car, however, the FBI said.

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He referred to himself as an "Islamic soldier" in one call, according to the transcript, and told a negotiator to tell the United States to stop bombing Syria and Iraq.

The release of the transcripts received mixed feelings from public officials. "We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community," said Paul Ryan, the top elected Republican official. "The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this and why."

Meanwhile, Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, agreed and questioned why the text was redacted.

"This is evil ... It's clearly a result of evil, radical Islam. We've got to call this what it is. We've got to defend our country," Scott said during an interview on FOX News Channel's "America's Newsroom."

The news comes less than a week after several U.S. media outlets had complained that the FBI and local authorities were refusing to release public record information related to Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, including the 911 call.

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"Even in critical and challenging times, transparency is important," said a four-page letter sent Tuesday to Orlando's city attorney from media lawyer Rachel Fugate, according to the Sun Sentinel. "It helps the citizens… have a better understanding of what transpired and try to come to grips with the horrific and unimaginable tragedy."

Other information being requested are documents about Mateen’s security guard license, records from Mateen’s short-lived job as a corrections officer as well as any information on cases in which he, his relatives and others were named as a suspect, victim or witness.

Fugate is representing several media organizations and outlets in the U.S., including Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Associated Press and others.

In her letter, however, Fugate debunked the “active” investigation argument by the authorities and the FBI, stressing that from a legal standing the information being requested, including the 911 call, have initiated the probe rather than been discovered or obtained as part of it.

"Records created before an actual investigation begins cannot constitute active criminal investigative information," Fugate wrote, adding that "the lone suspect is deceased and there is no indication that an arrest or prosecution of any other individual is anticipated."

Despite controversial comments by senior U.S. politicians over the Orlando shooting condemning Islam and Muslims for the attack, emerging details about the shooter strongly suggest his motives could have been deeply personal.

Several people who knew him have suggested he might have been closeted and suffered self-hate and shame due to his religious and social background.

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