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Thursday 8 December 2016

Nightclub massacre gunman told bosses taunts led to false terrorist claims

Published 19/07/2016 | 10:11

Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was employed by security firm G4S
Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was employed by security firm G4S

The gunman who opened fire at a gay nightclub in Florida, killing 49 people, pretended to have terrorist links to get work colleagues who teased him about being Muslim off his back, according to a letter he wrote to his bosses.

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In documents released on Monday, Omar Mateen said taunting at his job as a security guard at the St Lucie courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida, led him to say he had connections to terrorists and a mass killer, but he later told his bosses he made that up, and the FBI determined he was not a threat.

His remarks prompted an FBI investigation in 2013 and caused enough concern with the St Lucie County Sheriff's Office that officials there asked employer G4S Secure Solutions to have him reassigned, away from the courthouse.

But in addition to Mateen's explanation to his bosses that he had made the story up, the documents show the FBI did not believe he was a terrorist, and an agent told a sheriff's office chief that he did not think Mateen "would go postal or anything like that".

"I love the United States. The boasting I did it just to satisfy the gang of co-workers who ganged up against me," Mateen wrote in a letter to his bosses at G4S Secure Solutions, according to the documents released by the sheriff's office. "I'm 1,000 percent pure American ... I'm against these terrorists any one of them."

Mateen opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando during "Latin Night" on June 12 in a rampage that killed 49 people and injured 53 others. It was the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a call with police dispatchers during a three-hour stand-off, died in a hail of gunfire after police stormed the venue.

Mateen was born in New York and his family came from Afghanistan. According to the records, he told his bosses that when he first started working at the courthouse, one guard told deputies that he was "a Muslim extremist and potential terrorist".

When boxes were delivered to the courthouse, another guard often said "We have to be careful Omar may send us a bomb and he will get his 72 virgins", Mateen wrote, according to the records.

On another occasion, a deputy teased Mateen that his fingers had pork oil on them and he was going to rub them on Mateen's shirt, according to Mateen. Observant Muslims do not eat pork because it is considered unclean.

Mateen told his bosses that in response to the taunting, he told co-workers he had links to the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and Nidal Hasan, a former US Army major who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas that left 13 people dead and 31 wounded.

The FBI investigated Mateen again in 2014 because of his ties to a Syrian suicide bomber who went to the same mosque, but that case was also closed without the agency taking action.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Pittman on Monday referred questions to the FBI's Miami office. Miami office spokesman Michael D Leverock said he could not comment because the case was still under investigation.

AP

Press Association

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