FBI officials have confirmed to the Washington Post that, after a month of investigations, law enforcement have yet to find any evidence that Pulse night club murderer Omar Mateen was carrying on a secret gay life, or that the attack was a hate crime against the LGBT community.
“While there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted Pulse because it was a gay club,” an unnamed U.S. law enforcement official told the newspaper. Officials cited a lack of material on Mateen’s computer “and other electronic media,” potentially his mobile phone, and interviews with those who knew him. None have betrayed knowledge that Mateen was gay, using gay dating applications on his telephone, or expressed hatred of gays in particular.
The Post notes that evidence does indicate Mateen was carrying on an extramarital affair, but with other women, not any men.
The Obama administration repeatedly referred to the jihadist attack as an “act of hate” in its aftermath, and the Department of Justice censored parts of the transcript of a conversation between Mateen and a 911 operator that mentioned the Islamic State, the terrorist group to which Mateen pledged allegiance. President Obama pressured Republicans to consider stricter gun control laws in the wake of the attack, not mentioning Islam in his remarks.
In late June, shortly following the attack, the FBI made a similar statement through officials speaking to the LA Times. “So far, they have found no photographs, no text messages, no smartphone apps, no gay pornography and no cell-tower location data to suggest that Mateen — who was twice married to women and had a young son — conducted a secret gay life, the officials said,” the Times then reported. At the time, the FBI confirmed it was looking not only at the electronic footprint Mateen left behind, but had confiscated the mobile phones of men who claimed to have interacted with Mateen on gay dating apps and found no evidence of such encounters.
Officials also indicate there is no record of Mateen being a “regular” at the club, though they continue to believe his wife, Noor Salman, accompanied him to Pulse to scope it out as a target for jihad. Salman’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Following the attack, multiple men told media outlets that they had encountered Mateen on gay dating apps. A man identifying himself as “Miguel” claimed to have engaged in a sexual relationship with Mateen in an interview with Univisión, a testimony the FBI dismissed as “not credible.” One dating app’s representatives, Jack’d, confirmed that they had no record of Mateen using their services.
In addition to these claims, a false report that Mateen had confessed he was gay to his wife during the attack surfaced in major Spanish newspapers El Mundo and El País. That report has been discredited.
Instead, significant evidence has surfaced that Mateen committed the massacre, which left 49 people dead, in the name of the Islamic State as an act of jihad. Mateen told 911 operators as much, and explicitly pledged allegiance to ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in his 911 call. Throughout the years, coworkers later noted, Mateen developed a reputation for ranting against the “filthy ways of the West,” stating that he wanted to “kill all black people” and accusing those who felt uncomfortable with his rants of being “Islamophobic.” He did not lose his job as a security contractor for the corporation G4S, but after complaints was relocated away from the objecting co-worker.
Mateen received a traditional Islamic burial in Hialeah, Florida.