ORLANDO, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A complicated portrait is emerging of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen as evidence suggests that he led a secret gay life.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported that Mateen was also married and his wife could face charges for failing to report what she knew.
Intelligence sources told CBS News that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, said her husband had become radicalized in the last year, and that she tried to discourage the attack.
Salman was raised in California and is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Documents show Salman and Mateen married in an Islamic ceremony near San Francisco in 2011. The couple had a young son.
The White House and the FBI said the 29-year-old Mateen, an American-born Muslim, appears to be a self-radicalized “homegrown extremist” who had touted support not just for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but other radical groups that are its enemies.
“The killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the Internet,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday. “He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized.”
Mateen’s wife has been given a polygraph test. If she did know anything about Mateen’s plans she could face criminal charges.
Sources said Mateen’s electronic devices showed he watched videos of ISIS beheadings and other jihadist propaganda.
Law enforcement sources confirm to CBS News that Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen cased Disney World more than once before the June 12 shooting rampage at Pulse that left 49 dead in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The FBI is also investigating reports that Mateen had been a regular at Pulse and had used gay dating apps.
Sources say the first time Mateen cased Disney was in April 2016, and then the second time was in June. During the visit in April to Disney World, investigators believe Mateen was joined by his wife and their visit was confirmed by Disney’s vast network of sophisticated security cameras, sources told CBS News.
Salman told law enforcement that the April trip was a family outing, but sources told CBS News Mateen was casing the park as a possible terror target.
As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the gunman may also have been leading a secret double life.
One man, Jim Van Horn, told The Associated Press he was a frequent customer at Pulse and said another “regular” there was Mateen.
“Everyone knew his name, Omar,” Van Horn said.
Van Horn said he met Mateen once. He said the younger man was telling him about his ex-wife.
“He was trying to pick up people. Men,” Van Horn said.
He said some friends then called him away and told him they didn’t want him talking to Mateen because “they thought he was a strange person.”
Other news organizations, including The Orlando Sentinel, also quoted regular customers of the club who said they had seen Mateen there a number of times.
Kevin West said he knew Mateen from a gay dating app and communicated with him several times over the last year.
“And I remember his asking me for pictures. He wasn’t saying nothing. He wasn’t saying nothing racial or nothing like that, which you know that happens at times, but not with him,” West said.
CBS News reports that Mateen went to work the day of the shooting as a guard in a gated community in Florida and that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on his Facebook page during the attack.
From outside appearances, neighbors said Mateen seemed to be a typical family man, living with his wife and their 3-year-old son.
“And I would see them all the time going in and out, and I would always talk to the mom about the son because he was so cute. And he would play football with my – well, not play but like toss the ball to my kids,” Tricia Adorno said.
Thousands in Orlando and around the world continue to mourn the 49 people killed inside the club as federal investigators examine possible motives for the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“We see no indication that this was a plot directed outside the United States,” FBI Director James Comey said Monday.
Mateen’s ex-wife said he suffered from mental illness and his Afghan-immigrant father said his son was homophobic and got angry recently about seeing two men kiss.
His ex-wife said the decision to attack a gay nightclub was not surprising.
“He did feel very strongly about homosexuality,” Sitora Yusifiy said.
Yusifiy was married to the gunman for just 4 months, but said she didn’t suspect or know that he was gay.
“I feel that was a side of him or a part of him that he lived, but probably didn’t want everybody to know about,” she said.
Experts said this could factor into his motive.
“This to me suggests somebody that may have had sexual identity issues and may have actually been struggling with the idea that he himself was gay, and that would add a different motive and a different perspective on the case,” former Senior FBI Profiler, Mary Ellen O’Toole said.
A law enforcement source also told CBS News that Mateen also enrolled in Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary, a website for lessons on Islam.
The source said the website was operated by Abu Taubah, also known as Marcos Robertson, who apparently openly preached against the gay community. The source confirmed that Mateen also searched the Pulse nightclub online.
“We’re working hard to understand the killer and his motives and his sources of inspiration,” Comey said. “But we are highly confident that this killer was radicalized and at least, in some part, through the Internet.”
On Thursday, Obama will travel to Orlando to pay his respects to victims’ families.
Obama spoke Tuesday on the Orlando massacre and said anti-Muslim rhetoric from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is “not the America we want.”
Obama is arguing that treating Muslim-Americans differently won’t make the U.S. safer. He says it will make the country less safe by fueling the notion among followers of the Islamic State group that the West hates Muslims.
Obama lashed out a day after Trump doubled down on his proposal to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S.
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