Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, right, with his wife, Noor Zahi Salman. (Contributed)

FBI 2013 probe of Orlando shooter: ‘We don’t believe he will go postal’

After interviewing Orlando shooter Omar Mateen twice in 2013, FBI investigators concluded Mateen was not a terrorist or likely to “go postal” after Mateen told them he concocted ties to terrorists to silence relentless anti-Muslim teasing by St. Lucie County sheriff deputies.

An FBI agent informed the sheriff’s office in late 2013 that the bureau believed Mateen’s braggadocio about ties to terrorists were a “form of tit for tat — who is the biggest and baddest — rhetoric,” according to emails released by government officials to the not-for-profit group Judicial Watch, which made them public Monday.

The documents show that, under FBI questioning, Mateen assured an agent that he was “1,000 percent pure American.”

Mateen, 29, who lived in Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce, murdered 49 people and wounded 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 before police gunned him down. During the rampage, Mateen pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in a phone call with police.

The FBI investigated Mateen in 2013 after deputies who worked with him at the St. Lucie County Courthouse, where he worked for a security contractor, reported that Mateen made suspicious comments after terrorist attacks.

In a September 2013 email by St. Lucie Sheriff’s Maj. Michael Graves to Patrick Tighe, the sheriff’s director of operations, Graves said he spoke with an FBI agent who said: “We do NOT believe he is a terrorist.”

The FBI agent also said: “I don’t believe he will go postal or anything like that,” Graves recalled the agent telling him.

The 2013 investigation began after deputies reported that Mateen made comments about terrorist activities and the Boston bombers, Fort Hood shooter and attackers at a shopping mall in Kenya.

The documents also contain a statement from Mateen and the notes of the chief compliance officer of G4S, the global security firm where Mateen worked. In those records, Mateen described relentless anti-Muslim teasing by deputies.

Mateen, a Muslim, said he was often called a “camel jockey” or a “towel head.” Other comments Mateen recalled:

  • “Isn’t it your prayer time? Take your magic carpet and pray to your Allah.”
  • “Omar, you’re not going to get 72 virgins, you’re going to get 72 men to please you in paradise.”
  • “We need to nuke all the Muslims.”
  • “Omar, I had rifle training in the military. I can shoot up to 200 yards away. If I hear you saying Allahu-Akbar I will [shoot] you in the head.”
  • “I have pork oil on my fingers, would you get mad if I rubbed it on your shirt and X-ray machine?”

Mateen said the teasing was worse after terrorist attacks.

“After every terrorist event that would occur internationally on the news, I would get confronted by deputies throughout that day,” Mateen told the G4S compliance officer. “From the time I would come in to the time I would leave.”

Mateen first waffled when the FBI asked him about his terrorist connections. Then he admitted making the statements because he was so frustrated with being teased. He told his co-workers the Boston bombers were his first cousins, that he was related to the Fort Hood shooter and that he knew the Kenyan mall shooters.

Mateen said he made the comments to “get them off my back.”

As for his feelings about America, Mateen said he was “1,000 percent pure American.”

“I’m mentally and physically 1,000 percent against any of those terrorist organizations, which are anti-humanity and anti-American,” Mateen said. “So, I just want to confirm myself, I’m a dedicated honest patriot American.”

The FBI interviewed Mateen twice. Graves said after talking with the FBI agent he decided not to reassign Mateen.

“However, if he continues with the stupid terrorist talk even just once in the future, maintains an angry unacceptable attitude as a result of the FBI inquiry, his work performance … suffers, we will not hesitate to ask G4S to promptly replace him,” Graves wrote.

Eighteen minutes later, Tighe replied, saying he disagreed with Graves’ decision to keep Mateen at the courthouse: “Sufficient reasonable belief has been established that there is a probability for security to be compromised at his current location.”

Sheriff officers watched Mateen at the courthouse on Oct. 2 and found his behavior “not conducive to the court atmosphere.”

In particular, they cited Mateen’s “aggressive posturing, raising his voice, and seemingly attempting to incite his co-workers.” G4S took Mateen off courthouse duty and reassigned him to the security gate at a Palm City community.

Because the FBI did not take action against Mateen, he was allowed to legally buy the rifle and the handgun used to carry out the June 12 attack.

In a request for comment on Monday, G4S spokeswoman Monica Lewman-Garcia wrote that “G4S was never given any information, either by law enforcement authorities or Mateen’s co-workers, which caused us to question his continued employment with the company.”

The FBI and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to an email request for comment.

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