Orlando gunman Omar Mateen apparently made a series of Facebook posts and searches before and during his attack on a gay nightclub, raging against the “filthy ways of the West” and blaming the US for the deaths of “innocent women and children,” according to a senate committee letter released Wednesday.
The killer whose rampage left 49 people dead also searched for “Pulse Orlando” and “shooting” online on the morning of the carnage Sunday and said on Facebook: “America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” according to the letter.
The senate homeland security committee sent the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking the company to produce information on Mateen’s online activity and to provide a briefing to the panel.
The letter illuminating Mateen’s state of mind in the final hours of his life was released as the long, sad procession of memorials and funerals for the victims began in Orlando and as the FBI appealed for the public’s help in reconstructing the killer’s movements. The FBI is also trying to establish how much Mateen’s wife may have known about the attack at Pulse dance club.
“We need your help in developing the most complete picture of what he did and why he did it,” FBI agent Ron Hopper said at a news conference.
In its letter, the committee said staffers have learned that five Facebook accounts were associated with the 29-year-old American-born Muslim.
“The real Muslims will never accept the filthy way of the West,” Mateen wrote, according to the letter from committee chairman Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. Johnson did not say how he learned of the posts other than to cite “information obtained by my staff”.
As he did in his call to a 911 operator during the massacre, Mateen pledged his allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the Islamic State and, in his final post, warned: “in the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa.”
Despite his professed loyalty to the extremist group, the Obama administration has said it has seen no evidence that the shooting rampage was directed by the Islamic State.
A spokesman for the FBI did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday evening, and Facebook had no immediate comment.
On killer’s tracks
The three-hour rampage began at 2am Sunday and ended with Mateen being killed by a police SWAT team. The FBI said it was still gathering evidence at the Pulse and analysing cellphone location data to piece together Mateen’s activities leading up to the massacre, while also interviewing people who had any dealings with him.
On Saturday night, hours before the rampage, Mateen visited Disney Springs, an outdoor restaurant, retail and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World, an official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss the continuing investigation told The Associated Press.
The official said it is not clear what Mateen was up to.
A key topic for investigators is how much Mateen’s Palestinian-American wife may have known about the plot.
An official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation said authorities believe 30-year-old US-born Noor Salman knew about the attack.
Investigators have spoken extensively with her and are working to establish whether she recently accompanied Mateen to the club, said a second official not authorised to discuss the case publicly.
US attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused to say whether charges might be brought against the wife or anyone else.
A newly unearthed clip from a film documentary about the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows Mateen - then working security for the cleanup - talking cynically about people making money off disasters.
The excerpt from 2012’s The Big Fix shows Mateen telling a woman that everyone is “hoping for more oil to come out and more people to complain so they’ll have the jobs.”
Security firm G4S confirmed that it’s Mateen, saying he was stationed in Pensacola in 2010 to assist with cleanup.
Mateen, who was filmed secretly, disparages workers who were cleaning up the spill saying: “No-one gives a shit here. Like, everybody’s just out to get paid. They’re, like, hoping for more oil to come out and more people to complain so they’ll have the jobs.”
“(Be)cause once people get laid off here it’s going to suck for them. They want more disaster to happen. Because that’s where their money making is,” he added in the roughly 40-second clip.
The film-makers, Josh and Rebecca Tickell, said in a statement that they had turned the footage over to authorities.
“We do not want to add any more undue attention to the shooter. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the massacre, we grieve with you,” they said.