Homophobe gunman was an 'ISIS soldier'

Jun 14, 2016, 09:04 IST | Agencies

The terrorist group yesterday claimed responsibility for the mass shooting in a radio bulletin, calling shooter Omar Mateen ‘a soldier of the caliphate’

Beirut: The ISIS yesterday claimed responsibility for the Orlando shooting that killed 50 people, saying in a radio bulletin that it was carried out by “one of the soldiers of the caliphate.”

Australians gather to place candles and flags in Sydney in solidarity with the Orlando attack. Pics/AFP
Australians gather to place candles and flags in Sydney in solidarity with the Orlando attack. Pics/AFP

“God allowed Omar Mateen, one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America, to carry out an attack entering a crusader gathering in a night club... in Orlando in Florida, killing and wounding more than 100 of them,” a bulletin from Al-Bayan radio said.

Omar Mateen
Omar Mateen

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq said on Sunday that the attack on the gay night club had been “carried out by an Islamic State fighter.” The gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year old American citizen, had pledged allegiance to the terrorist group.

The FBI has admitted that Mateen — who was born to Afghan parents in New York — had previously been investigated, but cleared, for ties to a US suicide bomber. Mateen’s father said his son may have been motivated by homophobia.

The 911 call
Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi in a phone call to emergency number 911 during the attack. Mateen called 911 after his initial assault on the club. During the call, he also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers. He made the call from a bathroom of the gay club and gave his full name.

He was abusive, says shooter’s ex-wife
Omar Mateen’s ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy was equally shocked by the killings but said he had made anti-gay comments when he was angry. “There were definitely moments when he’d express his intolerance towards homosexuals,” she said. Yusufiy said he quickly became controlling, abusive and erratic after they were married.

After marriage, he made her hand over her pay checks, prevented her from calling her parents and hit her, sometimes as she slept, she said. He also kept a handgun in the house. Mateen was an observant Muslim but never expressed sympathies for terrorist organisations or radical Islamists, she said.

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