Lawmakers Call Motive of Massacre a Mystery

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The man who gunned down 49 people in an Orlando gay nightclub over the weekend “was intent on being a terrorist,” said one member of Congress after emerging from a classified briefing on the shooting Tuesday afternoon.
     “It is clear that this is an individual who sought to be a terrorist and he achieved it,” Rep. David Jolly R-Fla., told reporters after the briefing.
     Early Sunday morning, Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub, killing 49 people in the worst mass shooting in United States history.
     Mateen apparently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 911 calls placed during the rampage, though much remains to be established about his motivations.
     Jolly also told reporters it is still an “open question” whether the shooter’s wife had a role in the attack.
     Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said after the briefing there is no evidence Mateen was part of a terrorist group or cell, and that it is “fair to say” he self-radicalized.
     The FBI investigated Mateen in 2013 and 2014 but did not find anything of concern in either look, according to multiple reports.
     Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., expressed concern after the brief the FBI had wrapped up its investigations of Mateen prematurely.
     Cohen said the FBI knew Mateen was “lying to them on occasion,” which should have prompted a more detailed investigation.
     “I think that there were some issues where I think they should have gone further,” Cohen said. “Obviously hindsight is 20-20. But they knew he was lying to them on occasion.”
     In the wake of the massacre, several regular patrons of the nightclub said Mateen was a common fixture there. Mateen’s first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, also told multiple news outlets Tuesday that her former husband had “gay tendencies.”
     Cohen said it is “entirely possible” Mateen’s sexuality, along with homegrown Islamic extremism, played a role in the shooting.
     “I think that there’s more reason to study it further and find out what his real motivations were,” Cohen said. “I don’t think it’s clear, I think they need to do more research and I think they’ll have a better understanding of his motivations.”
     The massacre has reignited arguments across the country over gun control, terrorism and tolerance – conflicts that apparently emerged in the briefing on Capitol Hill.
     Jolly told reporters he left the meeting early after it “descended into politics” when one lawmaker asked a question about gun control. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., later called the suggestion the meeting was partisan “absurd.”
     Cohen agreed with Grayson, saying it wasn’t true “at all” that the meeting devolved into partisan squabbling. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters some members did ask general “process questions” about issues related to gun control, such as if someone put on a terror watch list but taken off would still be flagged for having been on the list.

%d bloggers like this: