The New York Times, citing law enforcement officials, is reporting that the F.B.I. is “increasingly skeptical” of the widely-reported notion that Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was a gay man driven by self-loathing to kill other people like him.
The inquiry is in early stages but investigators apparently have come to suspect that reports by patrons of Pulse nightclub that Mateen had been visiting gay clubs or that he had used gay dating apps are either false or a case of mistaken identity. Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, accompanied the killer to Pulse before he stormed it in order to determine its vulnerabilities to an attack but he did not necessarily spend time there regularly.
Instead, the bureau is focusing on Mateen’s history of virulently antigay comments at work and elsewhere, where he regularly professed hatred of gay people, and messages he posted to Facebook during his rampage inside the club. “Now taste the Islamic state vengeance,” he declared, condemning “the filthy ways of the west.” Mateen’s own obsessively antigay father has said that his son’s mass slaughter may have been motivated by witnessing two men kissing.
According to a letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Senator Ron Johnson learned in intelligence briefings that Mateen demanded that the United States stop targeting the Islamic State for elimination in Syria and Iraq. He also “pledged allegiance” to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and asked, “may Allah accept me.”
Since adolescence, The Times discovered, Mateen has been arrested, suspended and fired from school and jobs multiple times for crimes and misdemeanors ranging from assault to domestic violence to making threats.
One school report alleges that as a student Mateen was “constantly moving, verbally abusive, rude, aggressive,” often abusing other students while engaging in “much talk about violence & sex.”