Questions linger about Orlando nightclub gunman

WASHINGTON — The actions of the suspect in the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed dozens have befuddled most of the people that knew him in the last decade, but so have the investigations into his behavior.

On Aug. 10, 2006, Omar Mir Mateen filed a petition to change his name to Omar Mir Seddique Mateen. It’s not clear why.

On May 19, 2011, he petitioned for a divorce from his then wife Sitora Yusufiy, citing in court documents that “the marriage was irretrievably broken.”

But it turns out that after a little more than two years of marriage, Yusufiy told The New York Times recently, Mateen was the one that broke it.

She said that after only six weeks of marriage, the “nice” man with a steady job and a promising future became erratic and abusive. She said his demeanor would fluctuate radically, without notice — forcing her to eventually leave him.

His instability flared on several occasions, generating FBI investigations. None of which seemed to result in more than extended digging into his activities.

“We first became aware of him in May 2013. He was working as a contract security guard at a local courthouse,” said FBI director James Comey during a news conference.

Mateen worked as a contract security guard at the St. Lucie County courthouse, until May 17, 2013.

Joseph Abreu, communications manager for the clerk of courts in that city, said that was the last day Mateen used his badge to enter the facility.

The length of his employment is not clear.

Abreu said it’s not clear when Mateen was first assigned to the courthouse by G4S Security because the records are no longer available, due to a records management system change.

His behavior while working at the courthouse rubbed fellow employees the wrong way.

“He made some statements that were inflammatory and contradictory that concerned his co-workers about terrorism,” Comey said.

His actions triggered a 10-month investigation, which Comey said revealed confusing tendencies about Mateen.

“First, he claimed family connections to al-Qaida. He also said that he was a member of Hizbullah which is a Shia terrorist organization that is a bitter enemy of the so called Islamic state ISIL. He said he hoped law enforcement would raid his apartment and assault his wife and child so that he could martyr himself,” he said.

He was cleared in that case, but according to Comey, Mateen surfaced again a short time later.

“The killer’s name surfaced again in an indirect way. Our Miami office was investigating the Florida man who had blown himself up for the Nusrah Front in Syria,” Comey said.

“We learned from the investigation that the killer knew him casually from attending the same mosque in that area of Florida. Our investigation turned up no ties of any consequence between the two of them.”

Mateen was interviewed three times by authorities between 2013 and 2014, but somehow maintained his employment with G4S, based in Jupiter, Florida.

In a statement sent to WTOP, Monica Lewman-Garcia, director of ommunications for G4S Secure Solutions — North America confirmed that “Omar Mateen had been employed by G4S since September 10th, 2007.”

Lewman-Garcia said Mateen was off-duty from his job at a gated retirement community in South Florida at the time of the shooting incident.

She stated that he underwent “company screening and background checks when he was recruited in 2007 and the check revealed nothing of concern. His screening was repeated in 2013 with no findings.”

In a curious development, the FBI said Mateen was investigated in 2014 because of suspicious claims and alleged links to a terrorist linked to the Nusrah group, but it’s not clear if G4S ever knew about the investigation.

In the statement from Lewman-Garcia, G4S said, “In 2013, we learned that Mateen had been questioned by the FBI but that the inquiries were subsequently closed. We were not made aware of any alleged connections between Mateen and terrorist activities, and were unaware of any further FBI investigations.”

WTOP asked G4S if they were notified about the 2014 investigation. The company did not respond to our inquiry as this story was being prepared.

WTOP also asked the FBI if G4S was notified after the 2014 investigation into his activities and alleged associations.

The FBI, through its press office, declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

J.J. Green

JJ Green is WTOP's National Security Correspondent. He reports daily on security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments, and provides regular on-air and online analysis. He is also the host of two podcasts: Target USA and Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America.

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