FBI Redact Orlando Gunman’s References to ISIS


During Omar Mateen’s shooting spree at a gay Orlando nightclub which left 49 people dead, reports began to surface that at some point during the slaughter he had dallied 911 to pledge his allegiance to ISIS.

Today, the FBI have released partial transcripts of Mateen’s conversations with the police, but with certain parts redacted – namely his pledge of allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu bakr al Baghdadi.

Below is a portion of the released transcripts:

Police: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

Mateen; In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]

Police: What?

Mateen: 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.

Police: What’s your name?

Mateen: My name is I pledge of allegiance to [omitted].

Police: Ok, What’s your name?

Mateen: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].

Police: Alright, where are you at?

Mateen: In Orlando.

Police: Where in Orlando?

[End of call].

The parts showing as [Omitted] likely refer to ISIS and and the ‘him’ in question is probably their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

As reported before the release of these transcripts, Attorney General Loretta Lynch explained the decision to make specific redactions when she said:

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch told NBC. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].”

Of course, Mateen’s pledge to ISIS was already known to the public from other sources. As confirmed by TV producer Matthew Gentili at News 13, the authorities weren’t the only ones to receive phone calls from Mateen on that evening (The Washington Post):

“I did it for ISIS,” the caller said, according to Gentili, “I did it for the Islamic State.”

It has also been reported that Mateen updated his Facebook page during the attack with “I pledge my alliance to Abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah accept me”.

I can’t help but feel these omissions from official channels is an attempt to serve the ‘narrative narrative’ – which Sam Harris explains below:

In fighting ISIS or resisting the spread of Islamic theocracy more generally, we must at all costs avoid “confirming the narrative” of Islamic extremists. So the fear is that any focus on the religion of Islam or its adherents, like profiling at the TSA or intelligence gathering at mosques or merely acknowledging that we are not at war with generic terrorism but Islamic terrorism in particular; the fear is that this will drive many more Muslims into the arms of the jihadists; they’ll become jihadists because of this.

But now think about what’s actually being alleged here; think about the underlying horror and paranoia of this claim: let’s say (this isn’t a perfect analogy but it should work) you’re a bald white man, right, and unhappily for you there just happens to be a global insurgency of neo-Nazi skinheads that’s just terrorising a hundred countries, right; most white men are of course perfectly peaceful but this insurgency has grown so widespread and so captivating to a minority of white men that no city on earth is safe.

Bald white men have blown up planes and buses and burned embassies and even murdered innocent children by the hundreds, point blank; and we have now spent trillions of dollars trying to contain this damage; and many of these white men are seeking nuclear materials so they can detonate dirty bombs and even atomic ones, and to make matters worse many of them are validly suicidal and therefore undeterrable.

Now imagine what it would be like to hear presidents and prime ministers and newspaper columnists and even your own fellow white bald men expressing the fear that merely acknowledging the whiteness and baldness of neo-Nazi skinheads would so oppress and alienate other white bald men that they too would begin murdering innocent people; OK, imagine being told that at all costs we can’t confirm the narrative of neo-Nazis by acknowledging that white bald men festooned with swastikas pose a greater security interest than elderly Hawaiian women, for instance, or that any kind of focus on people who look like this could be so offensive that it will lead other white bald men to act out in this completely insane way.

Now this is either the most pessimistic and uncharitable thing ever said about a community, in the case of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, or it’s true.

OK, now, if it’s the former, if it’s just pure paranoia to be saying this then we should stop saying it, right; but if it’s the latter, right, if it’s actually a legitimate fear that calling a spade a spade here will drive some terrifying number of otherwise ordinary Muslims into the arms of theocrats, so these people will then be “radicalized”, they’ll be calling for clitoridectomies for their daughters, or they’ll be supporting people who throw gays from rooftops, well then we should be talking about nothing else; we should be obliging Muslims to talk about nothing else.

This is the most bizarre, uncanny fact about our world at this moment, if true.

What are the odds that similar omissions would have been made had this killer pledged allegiance to any other extremist organisation on earth?

We’ve now reached a point in this battle where it has become not only preferable, but official policy to throw facts about Islamic extremism down a memory hole. ‘Ignorance is Strength’, so it would seem.

UPDATE 20 June 2015

Just hours after releasing a redacted transcript of Omar Mateen’s conversations with the police, the FBI have now completed a U-turn and released the transcript in full, so that adults may make their own minds up.

Needless to say, I doubt you will consider me clairvoyant when you discover that the omitted sections contained exactly what I had predicted they would.

I can only imagine this change of heart was inspired by the palpable frustration and outright incredulity at their original decision. You have to hope the FBI has a better grip on Islamic fundamentalism than public relations.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


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