Orlando killer Omar Mateen claimed responsibility for his assault in a 911 call during the massacre, identifying himself as an Islamic soldier, according to partial transcripts released Monday that were scrubbed of any references to the Islamic State terror group. Utv Pakistan Report
“Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings,” Mateen told a 911 dispatcher during a 50-second phone call at 2:35 a.m. on June 12.
“I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted],” Mateen told the dispatcher.
The Justice Department’s release omitted any references to ISIS or Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, although Mateen is known from prior FBI statements to have pledged allegiance to the ISIS chief and expressed solidarity with other terrorists.
“As the killer made these statements, he did so in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron Hopper said during a Monday news conference.
The decision to redact certain crucial references was controversial. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blasted the move in a statement.
“Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous,” Ryan said. “We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.”
Hopper, however, defended the deletions.
“[Mateen] does not represent the religion of Islam, but a perverted view,” Hopper said, later adding: “Part of the redacting is meant to not give credence to individuals who have done terrorist attacks in the past. We’re not gonna propagate their violent rhetoric.”
United States Attorney Lee Bentley was asked if the omissions conflicted with Florida law. He said they did not.
“This is a federal investigation,” Bentley said. “The Attorney General decided upon this limited release.”
According to the Justice Department report, Mateen said twice during the 911 call and at least once during later negotiations that he pledged “allegiance to [omitted].” Investigators said he spoke to negotiators in three different calls at 2:48 a.m., 3:03 a.m. and 3:24 a.m. The longest call was the second at 16 minutes. The third call, at three minutes, was the shortest. The first call lasted nine minutes.
During one call, Mateen told negotiators that the U.S. should stop bombing Syria and Iraq — the countries with regions that comprise ISIS’ so-called caliphate. He said the bombings were why he was “out here right now.”
Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more inside the gay nightclub Pulse. He was later killed in a shootout with police.
The calls with crisis negotiators may explain why officials waited three hours — until 5:14 a.m. — before ramming a hole in the side of the club to free hostages and engage Mateen in a final, deadly fight. During those three hours, Mateen was holed up in a bathroom with several hostages, though authorities have said no gun shots were fired during this period.
The summary shows that Mateen told negotiators he had a “vehicle outside that has some bombs. Just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.”
Mateen claimed he had an explosive vest similar to the kind used by terrorists “in France,” referencing the November terror attack in Paris.
“In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on,” Mateen said.
He also reportedly told hostages that he would put suicide vests on them.
No explosives were ever found on Mateen inside the club or in any vehicles outside. Mateen was armed with two guns during the rampage.