Did Orlando Shooter Swear Allegiance to ISIS? What We Know About Omar Mateen

While the media buzzed with conflicting reports over whether Omar Mateen had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Twitter accounts linked to the group have posted what they claim to be photos of Mateen and praised his actions.

Omar Mateen, the man identified as the suspect in the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, June 12, 2016.
Handout, Reuters

Omar Mateen, who opened fire in the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of Sunday, is responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53 more.

Mateen entered the nightclub at 2 A.M. armed with an assault rifle and a handgun and after three hours of death and devastation and a hostage standoff, and was killed when a SWAT unit stormed the premises.

A senior law enforcement source said that Mateen had been on their radar as a “person of interest” and a “known quantity” and that the FBI at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but that it was closed when insufficient information was found, according to The Daily Beast

Mateen, 29, was a U.S. citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan, lived in the city of Port Saint Lucie, located south of Orlando, and worked as  a security guard. Mateen had active security officer and firearm licenses, according to Florida records, and a security officer license in both 2011 and 2013. There has been no evidence reported so far of a criminal record.

Marriage records show he was married in Port St. Lucie in 2009, and his family said he had a 3-year-old son.

Orlando shooter Omar Mateen.
Facebook screenshot

Mateen had been a violent and mentally unstable abusive husband, his ex-wife told the Washington Post. The woman, who was not named by the newspaper, said she had met Mateen online eight years ago, married him and moved to Florida. She confirmed reports that he worked as a security guard and owned a handgun, but said she didn't witness any evidence of an affinity for radical Islam. She said her family "saved her life" by coming down to Florida and bringing her home after he repeatedly beat her.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Mateen had “pledged allegiance to ISIS.” However, multiple law enforcement officials have told the media that they believe the attack was a “lone-wolf” incident and that Mateen acted alone.

ISIS has recently called on its followers around the world to attack as part of the observance of the month of Ramadan. Twitter accounts linked to ISIS have posted what they claim to be photos of Mateen and contained praise for his actions in Orlando.

Mateen called 911 before the shooting and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, NBC News said on Twitter.

Mir Saddique, Mateen’s father, said that he believed that his son may have targeted the nightclub because of his antagonism to gay behavior, telling  NBC News that the sight of two men kissing several months ago in Miami had angered his son. 

His father, who apologized for his son’s deadly acts, said that his family was “in shock.” He insisted the attack had “nothing to do with religion.”

Since those interviews, it has emerged that Mateen's father maintained a Facebook page for the "Provisional Government of Afghanistan" and had posted a video in which he pretends to be the country's president only hours before the Orlando shooting.   

In the video, he is dressed as a soldier and orders the imprisonment of current Afghan political leaders because "they are against our countrymen and against our homeland," the Washington Post reported.

Mateen hosted a political television program called "Durand Jirga Show" on the Payam-e-Afghan channel broadcasting from California on which he expressed political views that included praise for the Taliban and condemnation of the government of Pakistan.