Questions Grow on Orlando Shooter, a ‘Regular’ at Attacked Nightclub

Questions Grow on Orlando Shooter, a ‘Regular’ at Attacked Nightclub | Mateen claimed loyalty to several rival groups

The relatively straightforward narrative of the Sunday morning Orlando attack, a single, ISIS-inspired gunman acting on the basis of the group’s anti-gay policies, seems to be falling apart with the latest reports dramatically confusing the matter, and painting gunman Omar Mateen is a much different light.

After yesterday’s shock at the ordeal began to clear, patrons at the attacked nightclub, Pulse, discovered something incredible, and totally absent from the initial reports. Mateen wasn’t some unfamiliar attacker, but rather a “regular” at the bar, who had been coming in for at least three years.

A repeat visitor who used to drink to excess at Pulse, saying he couldn’t at home because his family was “really strict,” Mateen was also on a gay dating app used by other patrons of the club, and one man reported Mateen had exchanged messages with him and a friend.

A former classmate of Mateen’s at the police academy said that he believed Mateen to be gay “but not open about it,” and that Mateen had asked him out “romantically.”

Seddique Mateen, Omar’s father and self-proclaimed President of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan, had claimed that Omar was extremely outspoken in his opposition to gay people, and expressed disgust at seeing two men kissing recently in Miami.

The two stories don’t exactly add up, but then a lot of things don’t add up about the Mateen story, particularly the government narrative of him as an apparently random person who got “radicalized by the Internet” despite not having any apparent ties to any terror groups.

Indeed, the conflicting reports about Mateen’s “signs of radicalization” suggest he had no more than a tenuous grasp on who these Islamist factions he claimed loyalty to actually were, and had at different times claimed to be affiliated with wildly different groups.

The reports of Mateen claiming allegiance to ISIS amid the attacks are well known, but he also mentioned ties to the Boston bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers, who were said to have been inspired by an al-Qaeda magazine, as well as US suicide bomber Moner Mohammed Abusalha, who was a bomber for al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is actually fighting against ISIS in Syria.

The FBI says they concluded Mateen’s claim of ties to the Tsarnaev’s was made up by him, and believe he had no more than tenuous ties to Abusalha. Mateen appeared keen to present himself as much better connected than he ever was.

But making matters even more confusing, the 2013 interviews the FBI conducted with Mateen were prompted by him claiming to be a member of Hezbollah, which is a totally ideologically opposed faction to either ISIS or al-Qaeda, and indeed a Shi’ite Muslim group, as opposed to the other two, which are both Sunnis.

That is not in keeping with any of the other “ISIS-inspired” types who have been publicized in recent years, who at the very least appeared to be somewhat clear on what ISIS is, and certainly understood the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Islam.

The reports from people who knew him, whether co-workers, his ex-wife, or fellow club-goers, all tell some pretty similar stories, presenting Mateen as a man extremely prone to anger and quick to threaten violence at the slightest provocation.

During his time guarding the PGA village, co-worker Daniel Gilroy says he “talked about killing people all the time,” and was in a state of “just constant anger. His ex-wife presented him as quick to violence, and extremely abusive.

Even the Pulse patrons who remember him say he would drink to excess and become loud and belligerent. One described him pulling a knife on somebody for telling a joke about religion. He apparently had to be removed from the club several times.

The truth about Mateen is likely far more complicated than anyone realized. His claim of ISIS ties are likely to be self-invented, just as his claim to know the Tsaernev brothers, or his claim before that to be a member of Hezbollah. The real question, and the one that we might never know for sure is, who exactly was Omar Mateen?

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • musings2

    Since he was being studied by the FBI, what do you bet that they knew of his proclivities, and indeed played on them? And here I thought this was at last going to be a straightforward massacre. There seem to be so few of them not midwifed by someone in government.

  • masmanz

    It appears that he had severe mental issues, but since he was a Muslim no one wants to bring that up, they would much prefer to blame Islam for the carnage.

    • Robert Barsocchini

      I think only people with really light skin can have mental issues. That’s what the science indicates, no?

      • Eileen Kuch

        You’re joking, right, Robert? Blacks, Asians, Arabs, Whites – all have mental issues, not just Whites. The science would be way off bounds if that’s what it indicates.

        • Robert Barsocchini

          Yeah, was just being sarcastic. Doesn’t always work online 😉

  • Bianca

    He and Tsaernev brothers have one thing in common. Both have parents with “interesting” political orientation. One advocating for Afghan belligerence towards Pakistan, and being an exile-style politician/candidate in Afghan politics. Tsaernev brothers father was long term Chechen activist, and involved in CIA operations, from Kirghizstan on. Their uncle was married to CIA person’s daughter there as well (I believe station chief’s daughter). These are typical political operatives, Chalabis of our time, not unlike the “opposition” now being groomed for Syria. It is not unusual to see the offspring of such people having confused identities.
    There is a lesson there. But I am afraid, just like in the case of Tsaernev brothers, the picture will be diffused — on purpose. To take the spotlight away from the dirty politics often surrounding exile personalities. It is easy to now make light of his father’s political ambitions, but is anyone paying him to pursue the anti-Pakistan angle? Just as Tsarnaev’s father and uncle?
    It is therefore not a straight forward story — none ever is. But what will be lost in all of this quickly — the cult appeal of Salafi ideology. Trump is the only one who is GETTING IT RIGHT. Stop looking at the leaves, step back and see the trees, and then the whole forest. It all starts with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni sect — Wahhabism. It spawned with US, UK and Saudi efforts a whole range of Salafi CULTS. The name(s) do not matter, and are all transient. Al-Qaeda exists in a number of forms, changing shapes and names. Same with ISIS, or Boka Haram, or the Army of Conquest, or Al-Nusra. Or “Free” Syrian Army.
    All of them have the following in common. They do not believe in sovereign states, or institutions of state, such as constitution, Congress, parties, elections, presidents. They adhere to the concept of Caliphate — the feudal concept of an entity run by a feudal lord, caliph, and with the entire system run on the basis of Sharia legal code approved by Wahhabi Mecca. The code is the base of family law, criminal law, property and commerce law. While there are differences in how groups practice their cult — and their understanding of Sunni Islam — those are key characteristics that unite them. Wahhabi Sunni sect, and their followers, cults of Salafism, alone among all other Sunni branches in the world — do not recognize Shia as Moslems. To them, they are infidels. Saudi Arabia spread this cult far and wide, using two methods for spreading — one is the help to poverty stricken areas, and another through refugee crisis. Poverty in Egypt during Mubarak era allowed Saudi Arabia to open Salafi schools, and spread the cult among poor Egyptians — through distribution of food, and provision of basic education of children at their mosques. It allowed Saudi Arabia to literally buy mosques from the poverty stricken Egyptian Sunni Authority, and convert people to Salafism. Another good example is Kosovo. Once Sufi Sunnis — they almost entirely converted to Salafism since US separated Kosovo from Serbia. Same happened in Syria, as millions of refugees flooded Syria from Iraq. Living in deep poverty, they were radicalized into Salafi cults by Saudi Wahhabi missionaries. And long time before, refugees from Afghanistan’s civil war, ended up in Pakistan and India. And there, thousands of madrasas were funded by Saudi Arabia, with the political support from US and Pakistani military. These schools took in poor youth, and radicalized them — creating what we now call Taliban. Taliban — or the Students — went on rampage to convert Afghanistan to Salafi cult. And the process is ALWAYS THE SAME. With US support, Saudi money and Wahhabi ideology, cults are spread from Africa to Central Asia. And US is promoting them, as anyone following up such propaganda sites like Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. There, the governments of Central Asia are BLASTED for preventing the “deeply religious people” to have their caliphates! And for arresting them when they express such “religious fervor” and organize a coup somewhere, or try to disrupt societies by organizing prayers in public spaces.
    It is no wonder that neither Democrats nor Republicans are keen on us knowing the characteristics of those cults, nor their patron — Saudi Wahhabism. Nor the trail of money and political support. They would rather keep it muddy and thus being able to keep all Moslems as suspects. Trump just must persevere — and get experts to define the cult characteristics — so that we can start understanding what and whom are we really fighting. Cults must be fought with different tools, then armed insurrections.
    Thus, the identity crisis of the Orlando shooter is not really surprising. Coming out of a politicized family, being born in the US and adopting a lifestyle of an American, did not make him safe from the appeal of the cult. To the contrary, his confused identity made him rather typical personality type that goes into cults. Since we as a society have not identified it, but are still pretending that we are fighting them “over there” — we are uniquely not qualified to deal with the problem. It should not be hard to get a public campaign going that will expose the cult — its cruel and inhuman side, and counter the romantic version of cult internet images. It does not help that the official policy of US in Syria is to fight a legitimate government and its army — and glorify the Salafi cult goals. ISIS cry of “infidel must go” is not different from Obama’s “Assad must go”. ISIS cult sees it as encouragement and support for their cause.
    So, until we are prepared to go a bit further then just say “radical islam” or that somebody was “radicalized”, we will never get to the essence of the matter. We must be prepared to say that Saudi Wahhabism is a Sunni sect, not supported by any major Sunni branches of Islam around the world — Indonesian, Egyptian, Turkish, Iraqi Sunni Authority, Jordan, Sudan and many, many more. None of them are accepting Saudi Wahhabi position that Shia Moslems are infidels. None of them are denying the need for institutions of State, governments, political parties, government, elections, legal system separate from religion. Saudi Arabia’s peculiar contractually based relationship between the House of Saud, and Wahhabi establishment is specific for Saudi Arabia, and perhaps some of the Gulf States. But — such system should NOT be forced on other Moslem countries — specially not by paying “rebels” to implement their version of Caliphate.
    The problem for US is that it is hosting many Saudi mosques, and even strong Salafi centers, like the one in Boston. While the intention may have been to allow them to prosper and recruit potential new “leaders’ of Moslem countries, the creation is getting out of hand. And Saudi Arabia is not the only one supporting the extreme Sunni ideas. US is the home of a secretive multibillionaire Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish “moderate” cleric, as we call him, and a crafty businessmen that is currently running thousands of schools around the world, and over 140 just in US. The schools that are turned over to charter schools system are privatized, and this is how Gulen’s Foundation was able to make profit in US — and channel it into Turkish media, buying prosecutors, police, and others to try to oust the ruling party from power.
    Misterious are the ways of neocons and neolibs, and even chic left. They all seem to always know how to tap into whatever is the next cult — to keep the global pot boiling. And when it strikes at home — it will be, just like in Boston case — watered down, and written off — just another one-off. ,

  • Halit

    Who could trust American media ?
    This is a man who gone berserk and shoots many people as previous people dobe it in the past.
    Easily available weapons with combination of mentally disturbed / depressed individuals we are keep witnessing these murderers.
    It becomes a norm and that is scarier.

  • Johnny Alamo

    Bianca – Great post on Saudi Wahhabism and the US part in it. Spot on. Unfortunately, the American people have been taken out of the picture by the 1% war profiteers who only want to continue to sell war materials to the Saudis and to the all-powerful war machine in America. Until Americans get a handle on their own Pentagon spending there will be no significant change in our foreign policies anywhere, because it is all based on profiting from building and exploding more and more munitions bought by the American taxpayer.
    American students go without basic texts and are schooled in ancient buildings because we spend so much on the Pentagon and our overseas wars, something which will never protect Americans at home. In fact we need to look to the ordinary but dangerous people already in America, those who can buy a gun or bomb-making materials on any street corner in America, then go kill whomever they want, whenever they want.
    I am a gun owner and target shooter, so I have an interest in retaining all my rights under the Second Amendment. However, I would not have a problem with a higher level of background check, or to a three-to-fourteen day cooling-off period for such purchases, for anyone wanting to buy a clone of a battle rifle, one which uses high-capacity magazines such as a semi-auto Kalishnikov, M-16, or one of the many variants which invariably show up at mass shooting sites.
    At my gun range, the ordinary guys who own these rifles use them as noisemakers, not so different from the guys who buy fireworks and firecrackers at New Years and the Fourth of July. Most of them admit with a smile that they shoot their M-16 for the fun of making so much noise and putting so many holes in targets so quickly. I’ve yet to hear a single one of the say they have a use for their black rifles other than blasting away at various inanimate targets for the fun of it. These toned-down clones of military weapons are modern American adult toys for the men who can afford such toys.
    They owners of black rifles almost never use them for hunting because the traditional three-to-five shot hunting rifle is a much better tool (and much less expensive) for someone wanting to humanely hunt, whether it be to harvest deer or to eliminate varmints. For home protection, the smart gun owner has a multi-shot shotgun, the best home-defense weapon ever, period, no argument from gun owners or the gun industry.
    So I advocate for strict background checks for buyers of military-styled rifles, looking into their mental health history, their history of attending radicalized Wahhabi organizations, their history of spousal abuse, etc. In these deep background checks, make it one strike and you are out – a permanent black mark forbidding ownership of military rifles, a step that can’t be removed without the most strenuous legal efforts to prove the background researchers made a mistake.
    Such a thing will only stop the casual type of mass shooter, the person who buys a gun on a weekend to be able to shoot people a few days later, but even reducing those people’s access to battle rifles would be a big step forward.

    • O rly

      fun facts: Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and John Wesley were born on the same year and died a year apart.

  • Ark Ark

    there are reports that he had a gay dating profile and visited gay clubs on a regular basis in the 3 years prior to this atrocity, that would seem a little overkill for someone who was just scouting his target.

    Right from the beginning i had suspicions that he was a closet homosexual, being gay and coming from a devoutly muslim family who says things like “god will punish gays” would have been hugely conflicting for him, this is what likely drove him to violence.

    the islamic terrorism narrative is beginning to fall apart, it’s likely he just used the isis claim to make it seem he was acting in accordance with islam rather than out of frustration for his repressed homosexual tendencies to give himself expo facto credibility.

    of course this is just my theory, could be wrong.

    • Don

      Yes, the only exception from the norm for shootings in the land of the gun seems to be that he was a Muslim instead of it always being a Christian. The law of averages made it obvious that it was coming. Nothing else is different with this one and the guns are the exact same time after time.

  • EME

    the government narrative of him as an apparently random
    person who got “radicalized by the Internet…

    I don’t believe a damn thing from the USG corporate media,
    and won’t be duped by the racist ideology of political
    demigods attempting to cash in on this brutal and senseless
    act of violence.

  • andrewp111

    It all makes perfect sense. Omar was partaking of the sins for which his own faith requires execution and eternal damnation. He knew what he deserved. But he also knew that his faith gives total absolution of sins to martyrs who die in jihad. That was the only way he could go straight to Paradise, his own sins notwithstanding. And what better target for jihad than the club where he met gay partners. That way he could do double duty – avenging his own sins and that of his partners, and dying in glorious jihad at the same time. Now his spirit is with Allah, and enjoying a legion of young boys, as scripture prescribes.

  • People make such a big deal out of Gay Muslims. If it wasn’t such an “event” every time one is discovered, it wouldn’t cause so much angst.

  • Jun 13, 2016 Profile of Orlando gunman Oman Mateen

    Omar Mateen aspired to be a police officer and had once applied to join a police academy. He worked at a centre for juvenile delinquents as a correctional officer.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=627_1465803003#OeSdHRTXmOeVTj7S.99

  • JimBass56

    The guns made him do it .

  • Don

    The US society’s culture of violence, due largely to continuous wars throughout the world. This one just happened to be a Muslim. Easy to accomplish because the sort of guns needed are readily available.

    The abundance of these sort of weapons are the result of the society’s mindset of violence and until the gungoons allow that to change then it will just keep happening. Time to move on now and prepare for the next one. Whose loved ones? Whose children? Are we overdue for a big one in a school yet? Will that be more, or less acceptable to the gungoons?

  • MahmudH

    I don’t think it is very complicated. The man was a nut. There are lots of nuts out there, and when they have guns, sometimes they shoot their families, sometimes their work colleagues, sometimes their church/mosque, but in this case, he shot up his gay night club buddies. It’s a sick, sad world the crazies create.

  • Talha

    About him having issues, note this:
    “‘The FBI asked her not to tell this to the American media,’ he [current fiance of his ex-wife] told the station.”

    https://t.co/Jo6HEJB1NY

    Now why would they not want that in the narrative?

  • Mateen may not have done this because he hated gays. Mateen took surveillance trips to Disney World and shopping centers so he could have easily committed the shooting at those places rather than the nightclub. The reason that he did the shooting at the nightclub was probably because he thought that the security levels at Disney World and shopping centers are too high and because he was already very familiar with the security of the nightclub.

  • Most homophobes tend to be closet cases. It’s sad but true. The fact that this one happened to be Muslim is just a coincidence. Better luck next time Trump. Maybe the next mass murder will serve your racist philosophy. Unfortunately this one still fits Killary’s statist, anti-gun philosophy. I should probably buy a piece now before Killary bans me from defending myself against future queer-bashers.

  • Elysium10

    As Pres. Underwood said in the final episode of a continual series of “House of Cards:”

    “We do not negotiate with terrorists, we create terrorists!”

  • aaaaa

    Am wondering if he was a victim of pedophilia as a child in Afghanistan. He clearly had severe emotional issues