Orlando mass shooting: Father of gunman who killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub says he was 'a good son'

Seddique Mateen repeatedly said he was 'saddened' by the massacre

Tim Craig,Max Bearak
Monday 13 June 2016 12:28
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Orlando shooting: Mateen's father apologises for earlier comments

The father of the gunman in the Orlando nightclub shooting said early Tuesday his son shouldn’t have carried out the massacre because "God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality.”

In a video posted to Facebook shortly after midnight, Seddique Mateen, who lives in Florida, called the shooting "tragic" but said his son, Omar Mateen, was "a good son and an educated son".

“He had a child and a wife, and was very dignified, meaning he had respect for his parents," Seddique Mateen wrote, standing in front of the flag of his apparent birthplace, Afghanistan. "I don’t know what caused him to shoot last night."

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Seddique Mateen said his son had access to a pistol through his employer. The Washington Post and other media outlets reported Sunday that Omar Mateen worked as a security guard for G4S, a global security and contracting company.

In his video, Seddique Mateen repeatedly said he was "saddened" by the massacre, adding he had a "knot in his heart" since learning his son went to “a gay club of men and women and killed 50 of them.”

"I am deeply saddened and announce this to the people of America,” said Seddique Mateen, noting his son carried out the attack during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Seddique Mateen, speaking in Dari, concluded the video by expressing disbelief that his son took it upon himself to seek retribution against the gay community.

"God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality," he said. "This, is not for the servants" of God.

In Afghanistan, officials were still trying to piece together the family’s background.

Afghan government officials said they did not know when Seddique Mateen left the country, but noted millions of Afghans fled after it was invaded by the former Soviet Union in 1979.

Omar Mateen, 29, was born in New York but moved with his family to Florida as a child.

But Seddique Mateen appeared to maintain a strong affiliation to Afghanistan, hosting a television show broadcast from California that weighed in on the country’s political affairs.

He also filmed dozens of sparsely viewed, rambling YouTube videos portraying himself as an important Afghan analyst and leader.

While his travel history remains unknown, Seddique Mateen apparently traveled back to Afghanistan at least occasionally.

In 2014, during Afghanistan’s presidential campaign, he secured an inteview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani filmed in Kabul.

Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, Ghani’s spokesman, said the Afghani president does not know Seddique Mateen. The interview was just one of “hundreds” that took place during his campaign, Chakhansuri said.

“His campaign media team had screened the outlet, and responded to the request,” said Chakhansuri, referring to the station that aired Mateen’s television program, Payam-e-Afghan. “At the time of the interview, almost two and a half years ago, no indication of any of this tragedy could be seen in the father of this perpetrator.”

Chakhansuri said Ghani is also outraged by Seddique Mateen’s controversial views.

In one YouTube video, Mateen expresses gratitude toward the Afghan Taliban, while denouncing the Pakistani government.

"Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up,” he said. “Inshallah the Durand Line issue will be solved soon.”

The "Durand Line issue” is a historically significant one, particularly for members of the Pashtun ethnic group, whose homeland straddles the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line is that border. It is not clear whether the Mateens are Pashtun. The Afghan Taliban is mostly made up of Pashtuns.

The line was drawn as a demarcation of British and Afghan spheres of influence in 1893. The British controlled most of subcontinental Asia at the time, though some parts, including what is now Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan, were only loosely held.

The line was inherited as a border by Pakistan after its independence. Since it splits the Pashtun population politically, it is seen as a cause for their marginalization. Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in most of eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

Just hours before the Orlando shooting, Seddique Mateen posted a video on a Facebook page called Provisional Government of Afghanistan — Seddique Mateen. In it, he seems to be pretending to be Afghanistan’s president, and orders the arrest of an array of Afghan political figures.

"I order national army, national police and intelligence department to immediately imprison Karzai, Ashraf Ghani, Zalmay Khalilzad, Atmar, and Sayyaf. They are against our countrymen, and against our homeland,” he says, while dressed in army fatigues.

The most recent video on Mateen’s YouTube channel shows him declaring his candidacy for the Afghan presidency. The timing of the video is strange, as it came a year after presidential elections were held in Afghanistan.

Mateen appears incoherent at times in the video, and he jumps abruptly from topic to topic. His use of Dari, instead of Pashto, the language of Pashtuns, was another strange element of his presentation, given that he is discussing issues of Pashtun nationalism.

Sayed Salahuddin and Mohammad Sharf contributed to this report.

Copyright: Washington Post

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