21 Jun 2016

Orlando gunman: 'I’m an Islamic soldier'

5:40 am on 21 June 2016

A transcript of calls made to police by the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub reveal he described himself as an "Islamic soldier".

A picture on social media, purporting to be Omar Mateen.

Omar Mateen Photo: MySpace

A partial transcript of the calls between police negotiators and Omar Mateen during the three-hour siege have been released by the FBI.

The 29-year-old mentioned the war in Syria and the France terror attacks during calls to the 911 dispatcher.

Mateen died in a shootout with police after authorities stormed the building.

The FBI said Mateen spoke to a dispatcher twice during three phone calls made about 30 minutes after he began the attack.

Mateen allegedly made the calls while he held more than a dozen people hostage at the venue.

The first call lasted about 50 seconds:

Police: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

Mateen: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]

Police: What?

Mateen: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings.

Police: What's your name?

Mateen: My name is I pledge of allegiance to [omitted].

Police: Ok, What's your name?

Mateen: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].

Police: Alright, where are you at?

Mateen: In Orlando.

Police: Where in Orlando?

[End of call].

Mateen then spoke to Orlando police's Crisis Negotiation Team three times after the first call.

During these communications, Mateen identified himself as an "Islamic soldier".

An FBI spokesman told reporters Mateen spoke in a "chilling, calm and deliberate manner."

He said there was no evidence that a foreign terrorist group was behind the shooting and that Mateen was likely radicalised domestically.

The groups and people to whom Mateen pledged allegiance were omitted from the excerpt. The FBI had previously said he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State.

 FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

Republican US House Speaker Paul Ryan criticised the decision to redact the transcript as "preposterous".

Officials said the reason was to not give credence to individuals who are responsible for previous terrorist attacks and to prevent inspiring future tragedies.

He told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that was why he was "out here right now".

The gunman later said he had a vest, describing it as the kind they "used in France".

At about 4:21 am, police removed an air conditioning unit from a Pulse dressing room window to help victims escape.

Some of those rescued told police the gunman said he was going to put four bomb vests on victims within 15 minutes but no such vests were found.

Members of a swat team stormed the building at about 05:00 local time, exchanging fire with Mateen before he was killed.

During the three-hour stand-off, there was no additional gunfire, police said.

The transcript release comes a day after thousands of people descended on downtown Orlando to remember the victims in a candlelight vigil.


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