In a sharp departure from his earlier statements that Omar Mateen’s Sunday shooting rampage at a gay Orlando nightclub was prompted by anger over the sight of two men kissing, Mateen’s father this morning said he now believes his son’s attack was an act of terrorism.
“What my son did was the act of a terrorist,” said Seddique Mateen.
Mateen, who called the morning press conference, shook the hands of each reporter as they entered, asking that they remove their shoes before entering his Port St. Lucie home.
Remorseful and shaken, the elder Mateen repeatedly put his hand over his heart as he reversed his earlier statements that his son was motivated by homophobia.
“I apologize to the families who lost loved ones,” he said. “What my son did is against humanity.”
Sunday, Mateen had told NBC news that his son “got very angry,” after seeing two men in Miami kiss each other — particularly as Mateen’s own toddler son had witnessed the kiss.
“They were kissing each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front of my son they are doing that.’”
But both he and Omar Mateen’s brother-in-law, Mustafa Abasin, now say there was no evidence that Omar Mateen was hostile to gay individuals. Abasin said of the kissing incident that, “He saw it and said something, but he didn’t go crazy.”
Still, Siddique Mateen had balked at the idea that the mass slaughter his son carried out was the product of loyalty to ISIS, as both Omar Siddique and ISIS claimed. Siddique Mateen’s sometimes-extremist views on Afghan and Pakistani politics included loathing for ISIS.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that the elder Mateen, who ran for president of Afghanistan in 2015 from his St. Lucie County home, had praised the Taliban in a YouTube video: “Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in (the) Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up,” he said.
But Monday, Mateen said, “I don’t approve of any Taliban activities.”
In fact, the video, Mateen’s run for president and passionate views on Afghan politics center on a century-old border dispute involving Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“He’s obviously against Taliban and ISIS and all that,” said Qasim Tarin, a fellow Afghan expatriate who appeared on Seddique Mateen’s YouTube show and followed him on Facebook.
“I’ve known him for a long time. To his Facebook and all, he is absolutely against ISIS and Pakistanis and, of course, ISI intelligence,” the Pakistani security agency some suspect of involvement in terrorism.
Neither his brother-in-law or his father saw Omar Mateen’s conversion to violence.
Abasin said the Mateen he knew “was a simple person, a simple Muslim.”
Mateen would bring Abasin’s children gifts, playing with them when he visited, said Abasin.
Sitting on his living room couch surrounded by reporters, Siddique Mateen, said, “My son was born in America. He went to school in America. I don’t understand why he did this.”
Mateen, who talked to his son the day before the shooting, said he had not noticed any change in behavior.
“If I had seen anything that showed he was thinking of doing something like this, I would have called law enforcement,” he said.
Abasin had last seen Mateen Friday night at a mosque.
“Everything was fine with him,” said Abasin. “I hadn’t noticed any changes.”
Continued Abasin, “Please, please please, tell everyone I am so sorry for the victims. We are so sorry about this happening.”
Palm Beach Post reporter Lawrence Mower contributed to this story.