The gunman behind the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando Florida claimed allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State (also known as ISIL/ISIS) during his 911 phone calls on Sunday, according to James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The gunman identified as Omar Saddique Mateen of Ft. Pierce, Florida was born in New York in 1986. He killed 49 people and injured dozens, which is considered the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the country since 9/11.
According to Director Comey, Mateen also claimed allegiance to the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and to the Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria during his 911 phone calls.
Strong indications of radicalization
During a news briefing at the FBI Headquarters, Director Comey said they are working closely with local and state law enforcement agencies to understand “every moment of the killer’s path” leading to the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Director Comey said, “There are strong indications of radicalization by this killer.” He added that Mateen was probably inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. According to him, the FBI is leading the investigation on the case because it is related to terrorism.
Furthermore, the FBI Director revealed that the agency previously investigated the gunman, who was then working as contract security guard and made some inflammatory comments to co-workers and claimed that he has family connection to Al-Qaeda.
Mateen admitted making the statements during the FBI’s preliminary investigations in 2013. The gunman said he was angry with his co-workers because he believed they were discriminating him. The FBI closed the investigation after ten months.
After two months, Mateen’s name came up as a casual acquaintance of the Florida man who committed a suicide attack for the terrorist group Nusra Front in Syria.
“Our investigation turned up no ties of any consequence between the two of them. We will continue to look forward in this investigation, and backward. We will leave no stone unturned,” said Director Comey.
He added, “We’re also going to look hard at our own work to see whether there is something we should have done differently. So far, the honest answer is: I don’t think so. I don’t see anything in reviewing our own work that our agents should have done differently.”
Orlando massacre: an act of terror and act of hate
In his address to the nation from the White House, President Barack Obama said the gunman committed an “act of terror and act of hate.”
“As Americans we are united in grief and outrage and resolve to defend our people, said President Obama. He also ordered that the full resources of the federal government be made available for the investigation on the Orlando massacre.
After receiving a briefing from senior law enforcement officials on Monday, Pres. Obama intensified his call for gun control. He emphasized that the Orlando massacre was an example of a “home-grown extremism.”