Orlando gunman claimed shooting was motivated by death of ISIS operative

Orlando gunman claimed shooting was motivated by death of ISIS operative
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The gunman behind the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 was compelled to shoot up a gay nightclub in Orlando because of an airstrike that killed a top extremist commander, he told a hostage negotiator shortly before being gunned down by police.

In a newly released transcript of one of the calls with police made during his siege of the Pulse nightclub early on June 12, Omar Mateen said his massacre was retribution for the coalition strike that killed Abu Waheeb, a somewhat obscure executioner and propagandist with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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“Yo, the airstrike that killed Abu Wahid [sic] a few weeks ago, that’s what triggered it, okay?” Mateen told a police negotiator in one of the multiple calls made while he was inside the nightclub.

“They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid [sic].”

In the calls with the police, Mateeen repeatedly pledged allegiance to ISIS and called for the U.S. and its allies to halt airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

“You have to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing,” he said. “They are killing too many children, they are killing too many women, okay?”

He also falsely claimed to be wearing a suicide vest and said that vehicles in the club’s parking lot contained bombs that “can take out a whole city block almost.”

Mateen called Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, his “homeboy” and said, “Now it’s my turn.”

Waheeb is a lower-profile extremist figure than ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Abu Waheeb was killed just a month before Mateen’s attack, after years of appearing in jihadist videos.

Mateen’s mentioning of his name suggests a somewhat deep familiarity with ISIS’s inner workings, instead of merely a passing interest, as some have suggested.

Officials have said there is no evidence to suggest that the killer was directed by leaders within ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria, suggesting that he plotted the killing on his own with inspiration from the extremist organization.  

In his conversations with police, Mateen did not reference the fact that he targeted a gay nightclub and did not express any sentiments suggesting he meant to kill gay people in particular.

Mateen killed 49 people before being shot and killed in a standoff with police.

The transcript was released by the city of Orlando on Friday.

This summer, Mateen’s initial 911 call became a brief political flashpoint when the Justice Department released the transcript of the call he made that night but decided to redact his references to ISIS.

Initially, the department claimed that it did not want to give the group any extra publicity by including its name in the public transcript. But critics quickly descended, accusing the Obama administration of trying to paper over the role of ISIS in motivating Mateen to carry out his slaughter.

After the backlash, the Justice Department promptly reversed course.