Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, FBI Tried To Lure Him Into Terror Plot
Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons of the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce him to participate 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."
link to www.alternet.org
Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, the FBI Tried To Lure Him Into a Terror Plot
New revelations raise questions about the FBI's role in shaping Mateen's lethal mindset.
By Max Blumenthal, Sarah Lazare / AlterNet
June 19, 2016
Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons of the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce him to participate in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida's St. Lucie County told the Vero Beach Press Journal link to www.tcpalm.com 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 pushing Mateen towards an act of lethal violence.
Since 9/11, the FBI has relied heavily on informants to entrap scores of young, often mentally troubled Muslim men and send them to prison for as long as 25 years. As Aviva Stahl reported for AlterNet's Grayzone Project, the FBI recently encouraged an apparently mentally disturbed recent convert to Islam named James Medina to bomb a South Florida synagogue and pledge allegiance to ISIS, a militant group with which he had no prior affiliation. On trial for planning to commit an act of terror with a weapon of mass destruction, Medina has insisted through his lawyer that he is mentally ill.
Trevor Aaronson, a journalist and author of "Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terror," revealed that nearly half of terror cases between 9/11/01 and 2010 involved informants, including some with criminal backgrounds raking in as much as $100,000 from the FBI. The FBI's assets have often preyed on mentally ill men with little capacity to resist their provocations. "Is it possible that the FBI is creating the very enemy we fear?" Aaronson wondered.
The revelations of FBI manipulation have cast Mateen's case in a troubling light. Though he refused to bite when an FBI asset attempted to push him into a manufactured plot, he wound up carrying out an act of spectacular brutality years later and allegedly swore loyalty to ISIS in the midst of it.
"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," Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI's pre-9/11 failures, told AlterNet. "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."
To highlight the problematic nature of 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.
Mateen, for his part, displayed many of the psychological characteristics that typify both FBI informants and those they attempt to ensnare in bogus terror plots. Raised in a troubled home by an abusive mother and an apparently eccentric father, Mateen exhibited signs of erratic, violent behavior throughout his life. His ex-wife told reporters that he physically abused her and was "unstable and mentally ill." He transformed from a chubby adolescent to a burly young man with the help of steroids, yearning for a career in law enforcement.
Seven months into a job as a prison guard in 2007, Mateen was fired for threatening to bring a gun to class. He settled on a career as a low level security guard for G4S Security Solutions, a global security firm that employed him for nine years. Though Mateen's applications to two police departments were rejected, he was able to pass a G4S background check and receive several guard assignments. (The world's third largest private employer, G4S has accumulated a staggering record of human rights abuses, including accusations of child torture.)
While the full extent of Mateen's contact with the FBI is unknown, the fact that an informant encouraged Mateen to agree to carry out a terror attack should provoke serious questions and further investigation. Whether or not manipulation by a FBI informant had any impact on Mateen's deadly decision, there is no denying that the attempt to entrap him did nothing to protect the public.
"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."
link to www.tcpalm.com
Exclusive: PGA Village residents want answers from security firm
Guard house at PGA Village in St. Lucie County. (NICOLE RODRIGUEZ/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS)
By Nicole Rodriguez of TCPalm
June 15, 2016
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who was employed by G4S Security, worked as a security guard at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie at least two days before the Orlando massacre.
Some residents on Tuesday questioned how the problems of the man charged with protecting them — and who was behind the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — went undetected by G4S for so long.
MORE | Orlando shooting coverage
Deanna Ambrose, a resident, wants to know why Mateen was hired by the security firm and given a gun.
"All of us are questioning our safety," Ambrose said Tuesday. "He could have gone off the deep end at any given moment and just went house to house."
Ambrose, who said she continues to pray for the shooting victims and their families, fears Port St. Lucie's reputation as a family-friendly place to watch baseball has earned a sinister reputation.
"We've always been known as home of the (New York) Mets, and now we're going to be known as home of the assassin — the killer," she said.
Frustrated residents at a resident meeting Wednesday night, which was attended by at least 200 people, bombarded Drew Levine, G4S president of secure solutions in North America, with their concerns — among them, how Mateen flew under the private security firm's radar.
Mateen in 2007, as part of the G4S hiring screening process, underwent a standard psychological exam — named the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory — and a background check, its representatives said. The state also screened Mateen every two years in order for him to keep his private security license. Beyond that, G4S does not conduct yearly background checks of its employees; rather, 15 percent of all employees are randomly checked each year, representatives said.
Mateen's background, however, was checked again by G4S in 2013 after the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office requested he be removed from the St. Lucie County Courthouse patrol after he allegedly made derogatory comments to a deputy.
A deputy at the courthouse mentioned the Middle East to Mateen, who reacted by threatening the deputy, said Sheriff Ken Mascara, who attended the Wednesday night meeting at the community's Island Club.
"Omar became very agitated and made a comment that he could have al-Qaida kill my employee and his family," Mascara said Wednesday. "If that wasn't bad enough, he followed it up with very disturbing comments about women and followed it up with very disturbing comments about Jews and then went on to say that the Fort Hood shooter was justified in his actions."
The FBI launched an investigation into Mateen after Sheriff's Office officials reported the incident to the agency. As part of its investigation, the FBI examined Mateen's travel history, phone records, acquaintances and even planted a confidential informant in the courthouse to "lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite," Mascara said. The FBI concluded Mateen was not a threat after that, Mascara said.
In an interview with G4S management shortly after the courthouse comments, Mateen told his superiors he was the target of inflammatory comments from co-workers because of his Islamic faith, Levine said. The interview, Levine said, took place shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings, which was carried out by two Islamic extremist brothers. Levine said Mateen claimed his co-workers on one occasion asked him what suicide vest he was wearing on a particular day.
G4S concluded Mateen worked in a hostile environment and did not fire him, Levine said.
Mateen exhibited no signs he was a threat to co-workers or to the residents he guarded at PGA Village, Levine said.
"We don't believe we had a gap, because whatever transformed Omar Mateen into the monster he became, we didn't have a view of that and that's substantiated by the numerous interviews we had with our employees," Levine said.
Ambrose's neighbor, Maria Roman, on Tuesday recalled the time a year ago when Mateen stopped her and her husband, Edwin, for rolling through a stop sign.
The encounter lasted about a minute, Roman said. A pleasant Mateen let the couple go with just a warning.
"Oh my goodness. We see this guy every day," Roman said of learning authorities identified Mateen as the Pulse nightclub gunman. "We wave at him, and look at what's happened right in our own backyard."
Three of Mateen's fellow security guards at PGA Village declined to comment Tuesday, referring questions to Jupiter-based G4S headquarters. They said they weren't permitted to talk about their experiences with Mateen.
A statement issued by G4S said the company was "deeply shocked by the tragic events in Orlando this weekend and the thoughts of everyone at G4S are with the victims and their families.
"Omar Mateen was employed by G4S at a residential community in South Florida and was off-duty at the time of the incident. Mateen was subject to detailed company screening when he was recruited in 2007 and rescreened in 2013 with no adverse findings. He was also subject to checks by a U.S. law-enforcement agency with no findings reported to G4S.
"G4S is providing its full support to all law enforcement authorities in the USA as they conduct their investigations."
State Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Port St. Lucie, and a PGA Village resident since 1998, provided words of encouragement and comfort Tuesday to his constituents still reeling from the news that Mateen lived and worked among them.
"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing," Lee said. "What all of us should begin to do is to stay encouraged and each and every day do something to make your community a better place. Particularly, reach out to our youth. That is the way we're going to end all of this hatred, racism and discrimination."
On living so close to Mateen, Lee said:
"You turn on the television and you see national headlines, and you see this stuff happening in other places. Then to turn the TV on and you see your hometown, your community having connections to something like this just saddened me. My prayers are with the families of all of those people who lost their lives."
PGA Village has 2,517 homes on 2,600 acres immediately west of Interstate 95 in unincorporated St. Lucie County. PGA Village Property Owners Association Property Manager Diane Blakeman declined to comment, citing an active FBI investigation.
The controlled-access community includes more than 25 miles of roadway, three guard houses and a large clubhouse.
See Also —
CONFIRMED: FBI Introduced Florida Shooter to Informants
Orlando Nightclub Murderer Worked, Trained At G4S Security US Government Contractor
Terrorism And G4S: Was Orlando Another False Flag?
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