Orlando police released the full transcripts of terrorist Omar Mateen’s phone conversations with police the night he killed 49 people and injured 53 others on June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Throughout multiple conversations with authorities, Mateen repeatedly states he sought to kill and terrorize Americans as payback for drone strikes in Iraq that killed a key ISIS leader, Abu Waheeb, in early May.
Mateen told the negotiator that Waheeb’s death is what “set him off.” Rukmini Callamachi of The New York Times explained his fixation with Waheeb reveals how intensely interested Mateen was in the terror group, as the leader is a lesser-known figure in ISIS.
8. So who is Abu Waheeb? That's exactly the point. Waheeb is an obscure figure in ISIS, one of the original members of al-Qaeda in Iraq
— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) September 26, 2016
Mateen repeatedly told police he wanted to send a message to Americans and get them to stop aerial drone strikes against ISIS forces.
“You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq,” Mateen said.
In another portion of the phone call, Mateen called Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev his “homeboy,” and when police asked the Orlando terrorist what his name was, he called himself an “Islamic soldier.”
Although the transcript of the initial phone call in which Mateen declared allegiance to the Islamic State was released shortly after the attack, the rest of the conversations between the terrorist and hostage negotiators on that tragic night were made public this last Friday evening. Orlando police were reportedly reticent to release the transcripts, but the FBI said the phone calls will not affect its case.
When the DOJ and FBI released the transcript for the initial 911 call in June, they censored references to Allah and the Islamic State — giving many the impression their investigation would be shaped by an apparent eagerness to memory-hole the terrorist’s true motivations.
In the days after the attack, President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch tried to pretend they weren’t sure whether his Islamism motivated Mateen.
“I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation,” Lynch said in a press conference a few days after the attack. “People often act out of more than one motivation.”
Four days after the attack, Obama said the terrorist’s motivations were unclear.
“So whatever the motivations of the killer, whatever influences led him down the path of violence and terror, whatever propaganda he was consuming from ISIL and al Qaeda, this was an act of terrorism but it was also an act of hate,” he said.
Later in the same speech, Obama blamed the attack on the terrorist’s ability to procure a gun and Republican lawmakers who didn’t want to circumvent Americans’ Fifth Amendment right to due process. He also conflated Mateen’s actions with those of the Newton and Aurora shooters, who had no apparent or coherent ideology to speak of, and ignored the fact that Mateen repeatedly stated he was seeking to avenge ISIS in the last moments of his life.
Although the full transcript has been released, questions still remain, as portions of this call remain unclear — including a key part in which Mateen declares allegiance to ISIS.
“I pledge allegiance to (unidentifiable name) on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen said, according to the transcript.