News Release

Before Orlando Massacre, FBI Tried To “Lure” Mateen in Terror Plot

Untitled design (6)

Max Blumenthal and Sarah Lazare report for AlterNet: “Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons at the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce his participation in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St. Lucie County told the Vero Beach Press Journal that after Mateen threatened a courthouse deputy in 2013 by claiming he could order Al Qaeda operatives to kill his family, the FBI dispatched an informant to ‘lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite.’

“While self-styled terror experts and former counter-terror officials have criticized the FBI for failing to stop Mateen before he committed a massacre, the new revelation raises the question of whether the FBI played a role in shifting his mindset toward an act of violence. All that is known at present is that an FBI informant attempted to push Mateen into agreeing to stage a terror attack in hopes that he would fall into the law enforcement dragnet.” The piece is part of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project.

SUE UDRY, [in D.C], sue.udry[at]defendingdissent.org, @defenddissent
Udry is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation. She has tracked the misuse of informants and sting operations by the FBI and other agencies against Muslims and others.

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan[at]earthlink.net, @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

She is quoted in the AlterNet piece: “It looks like it’s pretty much standard operating procedure for preliminary inquiries to interview the subject or pitch the person to become an informant and/or plant an undercover or informant close by to see if the person bites on the suggestion. … In the case of Mateen, since he already worked for a security contractor [G4S], he was either too savvy to bite on the pitch or he may have even become indignant that he was targeted in that fashion. These pitches and use of people can backfire.”

AlterNet notes: “To highlight the danger of relying on informants, Rowley pointed to the case of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian physician whom the CIA used to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda. The CIA ignored obvious warning signs like Balawi’s extremist online manifestos and never subjected him to a vetting process. While Balawi claimed to have penetrated Al Qaeda’s inner circle, he was actually exploiting his CIA security clearance to plan a major attack. On December 30, 2009, Balawi strode into Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, and detonated an explosive vest that killed seven CIA agents and wounded six more — the deadliest attack on CIA personnel in 25 years. …

“‘The FBI should scrutinize the operating procedure where they use undercovers and informants and pitch people to become informants,’ said Rowley. ‘They must recognize that, in this case [with Mateen], it had horrible consequences if it did, in fact, backfire.'”