IS claims shooter ‘soldier of caliphate’
Cairo/Washington—Islamic State claimed responsibility on Monday for the shooting that killed at least 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, in an official broadcast on the group’s Albayan Radio.
“One of the Caliphate’s soldiers in America carried out a security invasion where he was able to enter a crusader gathering at a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida … where he killed and injured more than a hundred of them before he was killed,” the group said in its broadcast.
Fifty people died and another 53 were injured early Sunday when a heavily-armed gunman opened fire and seized hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, police said, in the worst mass shooting in US history.
The Afghan-born father of Omar Mateen, the man police identified as the gunman who killed 50 people at a packed gay nightclub in Florida on Sunday, hosted a political show on an US-based Afghan satellite channel that took a hard anti-Pakistan line.
In an interview with NBC News on Sunday, Seddique Mateen, also known as Mir Siddique, said his son’s rampage had “nothing to do with religion.”
He described an incident in downtown Miami in which his son saw two men kissing in front of his wife and child and he became very angry.
“We are saying we are apolosizing for the whole incident,” NBC News quoted him as saying. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”
Seddique Mateen lives in Florida, according to public records, but it was not immediately known when came to the United States.
He did not immediately return messages left on his phone, which appeared to be turned off, or respond to an email.
Omar Khatab, the owner of the California-based satellite channel Payam-e-Afghan, said in an interview that Seddique Mateen occasionally bought time on his channel to broadcast a show called “Durand Jirga,” which focused in part on the disputed Durand Line, the frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan demarcated by the Indian subcontinent’s former British rulers.
“Three or four times a year, he would show up in Southern California,” Khatab said in a phone interview on Sunday. “He’d talk for about two to three hours. He’d buy his own time and come here and broadcast and leave within a day.”
Khatab said Seddique Mateen’s political views were largely anti-Pakistan.
In one episode of the programme, named Durand Jirga, he declared his candidacy for the Afghan presidency, expressing his strong political views.
In others, he spoke on various political subjects in the Dari language, expressed support for the Afghan Talbian and even appeared to portray himself as the president, according to the Washington Post.
A US congressman said Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Florida resident and US citizen, may have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.
Meanwhile, the ex wife of Omar Mateen said he was emotionally and mentally disturbed with a violent temper, yet aspired to be a police officer.
Sitora Yusufiy, the former spouse of Omar Mateen, 29, identified as the shooter slain by police at the end of Sunday’s massacre, also told reporters in a news conference aired on CNN that she was “rescued” by family members from her ex-husband after four months of a stormy marriage that ended in divorce.
He was a body builder and a security guard, a religious man who attended the local mosque and wanted to become a police officer.
Mateen had no criminal record, and purchased at least two firearms legally within the last week or so, according to Trevor Velinor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.—Reuters/AFP