US & Canada

Orlando shooting: Why was the gunman's 911 transcript redacted?

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Media captionThe BBC's Gordon Corera examines what we know about the attacker

The Department of Justice has re-issued a fuller transcript of one of the Orlando gunman's 911 calls without redactions, after facing a wave of online backlash for omitting certain words.

The excerpts, released on Monday, excluded the names of gunman Omar Mateen as well as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Mateen, who killed 49 people at a gay Orlando nightclub, described himself as an "Islamic soldier" and pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi during his phone calls to authorities.

But in the first version of the transcript, any reference to IS or their leader was removed.

For example:

Police: What's your name?

Mateen: My name is I pledge allegiance to [omitted].

The decision to omit the names sparked outrage among Twitter users including US House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The Wisconsin Republican denounced the decision to redact as "preposterous" and called on the Obama administration to release the full transcript "so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why".

"We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by Isis. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community," Mr Ryan said in a statement, referring to IS.

Image copyright Twitter

Other users expressed outrage over the decision to remove IS from the text.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

The Department of Justice released a statement later on Monday defending the redaction.

Officials said they wanted to remain sensitive to the victims, their families and the ongoing investigation, while also not providing "the killer or terrorist organisations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda".

"Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organisations and leaders have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime," the statement said, before releasing the full transcript of Mateen's first 50-second phone call.

Image caption Omar Mateen, pictured in an undated photograph, worked as a security guard

The other calls he made were not released.

Mateen first called a 911 dispatcher about 30 minutes after he began shooting. During the call, Mateen spoke Arabic and praised "God the Merciful".

In a later phone call, he told a negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that was why he was "out here right now", according to the FBI transcript.

Mateen also told negotiators he had an explosive vest similar to the kind used by terrorists "in France," making a reference to the November terror attack in Paris. But no vests were found.

"[Mateen] does not represent the religion of Islam, but a perverted view," said Ron Hopper, the FBI assistant special agent in charge.

"Part of the redacting is meant to not give credence to individuals who have done terrorist attacks in the past," he said. "We're not going to propagate their violent rhetoric."