FBI Release Partial Transcript of Orlando Terrorist 911 Conversations
Omar Mateen praised God, wished peace upon the prophet and spoke in Arabic during a 50-second call he made to a police dispatcher on June 12 from an Orlando gay club.
The FBI has released partial transcripts of Mateen’s conversations with members of law enforcement during the brutal attack, starting with the 911 call he made at 2:35am, a little over 30 minutes after the first report of shots being fired at the Pulse nightclub.
Much of what Mateen said however has been redacted, with the FBI making the decision to leave out all references to Islam, 9/11 and any of the groups that the shooter pledged his allegiance to during the attack, which left 49 dead.
References to ‘Allah’ were also replaced with ‘God’ throughout.
That leaves some of his exchanges a bit unclear, including one that now reads: ‘I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].’
Republicans on Monday hit out at the Justice Department’s decision to redact so heavily the Orlando shooter’s conversation – citing it as another example ‘of not focusing on the evil here’, as Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.
‘Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous’, House Speaker Paul Ryan added in a statement.
‘We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.’
Mateen claimed responsibility for those killed early on in his call with the dispatcher, saying: ‘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.’
The dispatcher then asked Mateen where his exact location was in Orlando, which he responded to by hanging up the phone.
Special Agent Ronald Hopper of the FBI said at a press conference Monday morning that Mateen also ‘made murderous statements in a chilling, calm and deliberate manner.’
A little over ten minutes after his call with 911, Mateen received his first of many crisis negotiation calls. In those he told the negotiator that America had to stop bombing Syria and Iraq while referring to himself as an Islamic soldier.
Mateen said that the United States attacks on those two countries was why he was ‘out here right now.’
Mateen also told the negotiator he had a car outside that contained a bomb, and threatened to detonate it during their calls.
‘There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know,’ said Mateen.
‘You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.’
He also claimed to have vests like the ones ‘used in France,’ a reference to last year’s terror attacks in Paris.
‘In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on,’ he said, referencing his own attack.
Those claims of Mateen’s proved to be untrue, with no car found to be loaded up with bombs and a store owner coming forward last week to reveal that he refused to sell the mass murderer military-grade body armor.
Mateen spoke to the negotiator three times, and each conversation lasted at least a few minutes.
The first call came at 2:48am and lasted nine minutes. The second call began at 3:03am, six minutes after the first one ended, and lasted 16 minutes, the longest by far.
The final call came at 3:24am and was just three minutes.
Mateen said at the end of that last conversation: ‘In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.’
There were attempts to reach Matten again after that call but they proved to be unsuccessful, forcing police to quickly figure out how to get those inside out of the venue.
At 4:21am they were able to remove an air conditioning unit from a dressing room at the club, and began getting people safely out of the building almost three hours after Mateen first opened fire.
Some of the individuals who were being helped by police on the scene shared at that point Mateen’s plan to put suicide vests on four of the victims still being held hostage.
They said at 4:29am that Mateen planned to do this in the next 15 minutes.
A search of the premises revealed soon after though that there were no improvised exploding devices or vests in the club or in Mateen’s car.
The final push to take Mateen down and get those who were still being kept hostage safely out of the club began at 5:02am with a SWAT team from the Orlando Police Department breaching a wall with a explosive charge and using an armored vehicle to get into the club.
They were also joined by members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Hazardous Device Team.
A little more than 10 minutes later came a report that shots had been fired, and at 5:15am an individual from the Orlando Police Department stated that they had engaged in gunfire with Mateen and that the gunman was down.
That news came three hours after the first report of shots fired at 2:02am, with police arriving on the scene at Pulse within two minutes.
The initial plan was for members of the Orlando Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to enter the club and go after Mateen – which they did beginning at 2:08am – but as the body count kept growing they were forced to change their approach.
At 2:18am a call-out was issued to all members of the Orlando Special Weapons & Tactics team.
The FBI has stated they will not release audio of Mateen’s phone conversations with the police dispatcher and crisis negotiator. They are also not releasing both the transcripts and audio from victims of the attack taken on the scene.
Mateen texted with his wife as well while shooting dead his helpless victims.
Noor Salman, 30, called her husband a little after 2am when his mother contacted her and said she was concerned about his whereabouts, a law enforcement official working on the investigation told CNN.
Mateen, who was just starting his brutal massacre at that time, did not answer, so at 2.30am Salman texted: ‘Where are you?’
At that point Mateen responded, telling his wife: ‘Do you see what’s happening?’
When she replied back to that by texting ‘no’ he wrote: ‘I love you babe.’
There were no text messages exchanged between the two after that, though Salman did call her husband again a few hours later during his standoff with police. He did not answer his phone.
Investigators on the case are not revealing if Salman called authorities or 911 at any point during the shooting to identify her husband as the gunman, and the answer to that question could go a long way in explaining just how much she knew about the attack.
The FBI and federal prosecutors meanwhile are planning to bring evidence about Salman’s role in the shooting in front of a grand jury to get her indicted on at least two criminal charges for her role in the attack – which could possibly include multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for each of her husband’s victims.
An FBI source says that a panel has already been put together to target Salman, who could be facing any possible number of charges.
That source also stated that Salman could ultimately be charged with 49 counts of murder and 53 counts of attempted murder for her role in the shooting, which the FBI has declared was both a terrorist attack and a hate crime.
If investigators find proof that she scouted out Pulse nightclub or went to purchase ammunition or firearms with her husband knowing about his plans, then under federal law she would be just as guilty of her husband’s crimes.
Investigators have reportedly obtained surveillance footage showing Salman buying ammunition with Mateen days before the attack.
There are also reports claiming she told law enforcement that she drove her husband to Walt Disney World and Pulse nightclub to scout out locations.
It is unclear though just how much she may have known about her husband’s plans, with the FBI and investigators on the case keeping quiet when it comes to that question.