Omar Mateen and his motivation: Orlando shooter was a ‘homophobe, wife-beater’

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Jun 13, 2016 18:48 IST
An undated photo from a social media account of Omar Mateen, who Orlando Police have identified as the suspect in the mass shooting at a gay nighclub in Orlando.

Long before Omar Mateen, the US-born Orlando shooter, was radicalised around 2013, he was a wife-beater, a woman briefly married to him told US media outlets.

His father, Seddique Mateen, an Afghan-descent American with political ambitions, told a TV news station his son was a homophobe and the shootings had nothing to do with religion.

Investigators are looking for his motives, but 29-year-old Mateen professed allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call around the time he opened fire at the gay nightclub Pulse.

Authorities revised the death toll to 49 on Monday, saying the earlier count included the shooter, who, FBI special agent Paul Wysopal said, cannot be included “as a victim”.

Mateen, who was born in New York and grew up in the US, had been on the FBI’s radar since at least 2013, when he was first investigated, special agent Ron Hopper said.

Read: Omar Mateen: How a ‘playful’ Afghan child became Orlando shooter

He was investigated again in 2014, but the cases were closed as “inconclusive” for lack of prosecutable evidence, the FBI has said.

Mateen was interviewed twice in connection with the first case – launched after he was heard making “inflammatory remarks” to his colleagues at his workplace and claiming jihadi links.

The FBI investigated him again in 2014 for possible links to Moner Abu Salha, the first American suicide bomber in Syria. The FBI closed that case too, concluding the contact was minimal.

Through all this, Mateen was employed by security company G4S, which said in a statement he had been on its rolls since September 2007 though it was not clear if this was continuous.

Read:As IS links emerge, father says Orlando suspect not motivated by religion

Media reports suggested Mateen was also in touch with Marcus Dwayne Robertson, a US marine who became a jihadi preacher transitioning through a variety of intermediate phases.

Sitora Yusufiy, who was briefly married to Mateen, said in multiple interviews they met in 2009 on a dating site. She moved to Florida to be with him and they married shortly after.

Yusufiy, who said she migrated to the US from Uzbekistan in 2000, noticed Mateen’s erratic behaviour within six weeks of their marriage. He began beating her and took away her pay cheques.

Their marriage lasted a few months. “He was not a stable person,” she told The Washington Post. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”

Otherwise, Mateen “seemed like a normal human being”, Yusufiy has said, adding he didn’t seem very religious and preferred to spend his spare time working out in a gym.

After his divorce from Yusufiy in 2011, Mateen is understood to have married again – this time he had a son – but this relationship ended in divorce too. No details were available.

Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, who is a prolific broadcaster on local community TV network, one of zillions in every neighbourhood, has said his son is a homophobe.

He was angered, the senior Mateen claimed, by the sight of two men kissing in Miami a few months ago. Angered enough to cause the death of 49 people?

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