Omar Mateen photographed here with his second wife Noor Zahi Salman and young son led a double life as a gay man, says his ex wife and acquaintances. (Photo: Noor Zahi Salman/ Facebook)
The Florida gunman who murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, was homosexual with no links to Daesh [ISIS], according to his ex wife, former friends and gay clubbers.
Omar Mateen’s attack on Pulse nightclub on June 12 was initially reported to be a homophobic attack rooted in extremist ideology.
But now his ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy, a former police academy classmate and clubbers in several gay clubs across Florida all insist Mateen was gay and had been visiting Pulse since 2013.
Investigators think he could have traveled to Pulse – which was a two hour drive from his home in Fort Pierce in Southern Florida – so he wouldn’t have been seen.
It’s also been revealed that Mateen was friends with draq queens at the club and used gay online dating apps Grindr and Jack’d to chat to men.
Signs that Mateen could have been gay emerged as far back as 2006 when he asked a male classmate out on a date.
At the time Mateen was said to be going to gay clubs and chatting up men.
Mateen’s first wife, Yusufiy, 27, whom he married in 2009, told the New York Times his family think he murdered the 49 because he was in turmoil about his sexuality – not because he as an “Islamic extremist”. Her husband hid his homosexuality “out of anger and shame.”
She told Daily News Mateen “confessed to me about his past – that was recent at that time – and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife, so, I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn’t want everybody to know about,” said Yusufiy.
Yusufiy’s fiancé Marcio Dias insisted that Mateen had “gay tendencies” and had been called gay in front of Yusufiy on several occasions by his father Seddique Mateen.
According to Dias his fiancé had told the FBI that he was unstable, and that she didn’t believe he was part of a terrorist group – despite him pledging allegiance to ISIS before the attack and the terror group later claiming responsibility for it.
“The FBI asked her not to tell this to the American media,” said Dias.
Yusufiy has also said that “After a few months he started to beat me. He was mentally unstable…he was obviously disturbed. I know he had a history of [taking] steroids.”
Club regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past 3 years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.
A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.
Ty Smith and Chris Callen said Mateen was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.
Callen said: “I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.”
Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse “at least a dozen times,” adding, “we didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times, He told us he had a wife and child.”
A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.
Callen said Mateen, who seemed “comfortable” with the drag queens, but showed a darker side when he threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.
A former male classmate at the Indian River Community College Police Academy revealed that Mateen had asked him out on a date in 2006. The man, who did not wish to be named, told the Palm Beach Post that they went to gay clubs and that Mateen had asked him out on a date at one point.“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” he said.
He described Mateen as a closeted gay and “socially awkward” figure who “just wanted to fit in and no one liked him.”
Kevin West, who was also a regular at Pulse, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen has messaged him on gay dating app Jack’d several times in the year before the attack.
However, he said, he never actually met the man until the morning of the attack. He saw Mateen crossing the street outside Pulse at around 1am, an hour before the attack.
West, who was dropping off a friend at the club, recognised Mateen. “He walked directly past me,” he said. “I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’ and nodded his head”, West said.
West went to police as soon as he saw pictures of Mateen in news reports, handing over his mobile and Jack’d login to FBI agents, who still had it.
Mateen married a second time to Noor Zahi Salman, with whom he had a son, but despite getting a mortgage together in 2013, they were living at separate addresses when he went on his rampage.
His father, Seddique Mateen, denied his son was gay telling of a time when his son became angry after seeing two men kissing in Florida. “If he was gay, why would he do something like this?” he said.
But speaking to The Canadian Press, Ty Smith said that the story was “bull****”.
“That’s straight-up c*** he’s been around us. Some of those people did a little more than (kiss) outside the bar, he was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?”
Classmate Samuel King said Mateen was not homophobic when he knew him in the year after their 2004 graduation.
“What is shocking to me is that the majority of the staff at Ruby Tuesday’s when I worked there were gay. He clearly was not anti-(gay), at least not back then. He did not show any hatred to any of us. He treated us all like the individuals we were. He always smiled and said hello.”
The revelation that the Mateen was motivated by something other than radicalisation comes only a day after the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, Hilary Clinton succumbed to pressure from her Republican rival Donald Trump and said she was “happy to call it ‘radical Islamism’”.
Under pressure from Trump to connect the Orlando massacre with the Mateen’s religion, Clinton broke with President Barack Obama and defined the assault as ‘radical Islamism’.