Turns out Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was a ‘known quantity’ to federal law enforcement before he killed 59 (risen from 50 as was previously confirmed) and injured dozens more this morning in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Or, perhaps more to the point, before he executed the most deadly terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 — and the second Islamic terror attack on our homeland in just six months.
Though the FBI apparently had identified Mateen as a person of interest twice — first in 2013 and then 2014 — the agency subsequently closed the case after it appeared there was nothing to warrant further investigation.
As The Daily Beast reports:
Omar Mateen of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, came to the attention of federal authorities twice prior to being identified as the gunman in the Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting, a senior law enforcement source told The Daily Beast.
Mateen killed 53 people and shot more than 100 in total at the Pulse gay nightclub early Sunday morning, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The senior law enforcement source reports that Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.
“He’s a known quantity,” the source said. “He’s been on the radar before.”
As WZ reports, the FBI today elaborated in a press conference on its previous investigation into Mateen. It said in 2013, coworkers reported Mateen after he claimed connections to terrorism. The FBI investigated, however could not substantiate the claims apparently. Then, in 2014, the FBI looked into Mateen’s apparent contact with an attempted suicide bomber, but apparently did not find enough to keep investigating.
Of course, today we also have learned that though Mateen had no apparent criminal history, he been a follower of ISIS propaganda — and right before carrying out this morning’s attacks, had called 911 moments before to pledge allegiance to the leader of ISIS. And this afternoon, ISIS has claimed responsibility for today’s attacks.
Certainly, we don’t know enough yet to understand exactly why the FBI didn’t feel in 2013 and 2014 it had enough to keep watching Mateen even after claims — and what appeared to be evidence — of association with terrorists; no doubt, we will be trying to understand much more about this in the coming days. We certainly must hope that the investigation wasn’t thwarted at all by concerns about angering the Muslim community, as we have reported has previously been revealed about other FBI terror investigations.
At the same time, it must be pointed out that this tragedy should not be seized upon as an opportunity to attack the constitutional rights of all Americans — as Obama and the left are already trying to do. Rather, a couple questions on the topic of guns must be asked: 1.) should someone who had been on the FBI watch list been able to purchase guns without raising eyebrows? (Yes, this opens a whole can of worms on a variety of fronts, especially when you consider the recent IRS “list” conservatives were targeted with) and 2.) could armed citizens at the nightclub saved lives in this tragedy?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]