The FBI had a decade-long confidential informant relationship with the father of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, prosecutors admitted Saturday, 12 days into the trial of his wife.
The undercover relationship with the father, Seddique Mateen, continued even though the bureau was tipped off in 2012 that its informant was himself raising money to plan a terrorist attack on the government of Pakistan.
The father’s status also played a role in the FBI’s decision not to seek prosecution of Omar in 2013 after they investigated him for violent threats, attorneys for the shooter’s wife said. If Omar had gone to prison in that case, the infamous Pulse shooting might have been avoided.
Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 68 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June 2016.
“Mateen’s father played a significant role in the FBI’s decision not to seek an indictment from the Justice Department for false statements to the FBI or obstruction of justice against Omar Mateen during its 2013 investigation into his alleged threats,” lawyers for his wife, Noor Salman, said in a motion.
The defense lawyers argue that Omar’s father, rather than his wife, may have been the real co-conspirator. They claim the FBI was too embarrassed to pursue that line of investigation because of its longstanding relationship with Seddique despite red flags.
The FBI told its informant Seddique in 2013 that his son was being investigated because he told people he’d become a member of Hezbollah and “appeared to be pleased with the alleged death of FBI agents.” Seddique became “very upset” to learn of the investigation, but the FBI continued working with him as an informant.
The father was widely photographed directly behind Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally after the shooting.
Though former FBI Director James Comey painted Omar as a “lone wolf,” prosecutors say the attack was carried out in support of ISIS and that his wife was well aware of his plans. Salman admitted to lying to the FBI about it. She is now facing trial in Orlando for providing material support to a foreign terror organization. Police shot and killed Omar, ending the attack.
Defense attorneys say the FBI wanted to “implicate Noor Salman, rather than Seddique Mateen in order to avoid scrutiny of its own ineptitude with the latter,” Orlando’s News 6 reported.
Defense attorneys are seeking a mistrial based on the government’s actions surrounding the father. “If the Government had provided this information, the Defense would have investigated whether a tie existed between Seddique Mateen and his son, specifically whether Mateen’s father was involved in or had foreknowledge of the Pulse attack. ”
Days before the shooting, the father wired money abroad, the prosecutors acknowledged.
“The Government’s belated disclosure demonstrates that he was providing funds to unknown sources in Afghanistan and Turkey and thus has been under criminal investigation,” they wrote.
The FBI even considered working with Omar himself, FBI Special Agent Juvenal Martin testified in court Monday. An Orlando Sentinel reporter tweeted that Martin “considered developing Omar Mateen into a confidential informant for the FBI after investigating him and not finding a tie to terrorism.”
“Seddique also told Martin there was a distant family connection on his wife’s side to the Fort Hood shooter, but Martin said he couldn’t verify,” reporter Krista Torralva tweeted.
Seddique Mateen was a FBI confidential human source at various points in time between January 2005 and June 2016. During a consent search conducted at Seddique Mateen’s residence on June 12, 2016, receipts for money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan were found.
The dates of the transfers were between March 16, 2016 and June 5, 2016. As a result of the discovery of these receipts, an FBI investigation into Seddique Mateen was opened. S. Mateen has not been informed by the FBI about the
Further, on November 1, 2012, an anonymous tip indicated that Seddique Mateen was seeking to raise $50,000 – $100,000 via a donation drive to contribute towards an attack against the government of Pakistan.
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