FBI: Florida gunman 'tied' to Hezbollah

Orlando gunman Omar Mateen in another selfie photo released by Orlando Police Department (Photo: AP)

The Orlando gunman who killed at least 50 and wounded many more, claimed to be loyal to a number of loyalist groups who are on opposing sides in the battlefield including Hezbollah and ISIS, US newspaper the Los Angeles Times reported.

Omar Mateen called 911 to say he was attacking the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, swearing allegiance with ISIS.

The FBI's Director James Comey told the newspaper that since 2013 Mateen is known to have made a series elaborate claims linking his relatives to the Sunni terror network Al-Qaeda, while also claiming to have been a member of Hezbollah - the Iran-backed Shiite militia that operates in Lebanon. Both groups are known to oppose ISIS.

Comey said the contradictory comments and claims led to confusion surrounding his inspiration for Sunday’s devastating attack the newspaper report added.

In 2014, Comey added that the FBI again ‘briefly’ investigated Mateen amid allegations that he had watched videos by Al Qaeda propagandist Anwar Awlaki. The killer also attended the same mosque as an American who became a suicide bomber for Al Nusra Front in Syria which is also opposed to ISIS.

“During the calls [to 911] he said he was doing this for the leader of ISIL, who he named and pledged loyalty to,” Comey told a press conference on Monday using a different acronym for ISIS.

“But he also appeared to claim solidarity with the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing and solidarity with a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for al-Nusra Front, a group in conflict with the so-called Islamic State.”

He added: “The bombers at the Boston Marathon and the suicide bomber from Florida were not inspired by ISIL, which adds a little bit to the confusion about his motives.”

He explained that in 2013 “he was working as a contract security guard at a local courthouse and he made statements that were inflammatory and contradictory that concerned his coworkers about terrorism.

“First, he claimed family connections to Al Qaida. He also said that he was a member of Hezbollah, which is a Shia terrorist organization that is a bitter enemy of the so-called Islamic state, ISIL.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51