“The domestic terrorist behind the Orlando nightclub massacre was motivated by a Pentagon drone strike in Iraq a month before the shooting, according to police transcripts made public last week.
Conversations between Omar Mateen and an Orlando police negotiator on June 12 were kept secret by FBI and local police until Friday. The secrecy contributed to misleading media accounts of the terrorist’s motives in the days after the killings.
The transcripts were released by Orlando police Friday after a Florida court hearing held in response to a lawsuit filed by several news organizations.
Mateen killed 49 people during the attack on the Pulse, a gay nightclub, and wounded 53 others. Police eventually stormed the club and killed Mateen in a shootout after talks aimed at convincing him to surrender failed.
During an exchange in the early morning hours of June 12, an Orlando Police Department negotiator identified only as “Andy” asked Mateen, who was speaking by cell phone from inside the club, to tell him what was going on.
“Yo, the air strike that killed Abu Wahid a few weeks ago… that’s what triggered it, okay?” said Mateen, who earlier in the conversation identified himself as a follower the Islamic State terror group.
“They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid,” the former security guard declared. “Do your fucking homework and figure out who Abu Wahid is, okay?”
Additionally, Mateen praised one of the bombers of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and another domestic terrorist whose name was transcribed as unintelligible in the released transcript.
At other points, Mateen told the negotiator that the United States needed to stop all bombing in Iraq and Syria.
Initial reports from several news outlets reporting on the mass shooting variously described Mateen as gay, a “homophobe” and a “wife beater,” despite his having made claims of allegiance to the Islamic State.
The New York Times, for example, stated in an editorial three days after the shooting that the “precise motive [of Mateen] remains unclear.” The editorial then said it was “evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians.” Investigators later dismissed as a false claim that Mateen was driven to the killing spree by gay self-hatred.
The Orlando attack was the deadliest terrorist incident since the September 11, 2001, attacks. The FBI would later reveal it investigated Mateen twice but claimed there was a lack of evidence he was linked to Islamic terrorism.”