US & Canada

Orlando gunman said 'I’m an Islamic soldier' in police call

Mourners in Orlando Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A huge vigil was held on Sunday in Orlando

The gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub described himself as an Islamic soldier in calls made to police during the attack.

A transcript of the calls between police negotiators and Omar Mateen during the three-hour siege have been released by the FBI.

The 29-year-old mentioned the war in Syria and the France terror attacks during calls to the 911 dispatcher.

Mateen died in a shootout with police after authorities stormed the building.

The FBI said Mateen spoke to a dispatcher twice during three phone calls made about 30 minutes after he began the attack.

Mateen allegedly made the calls while he held more than a dozen people hostage at the venue.

The first call (see below) lasted about 50 seconds.

Police: Orlando Police Dispatcher

Mateen: Omar Mateen

Police: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

Mateen; In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]

Police: What?

Mateen: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings.

Police: What's your name?

Mateen: My name is I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.

Police: Ok, What's your name?

Mateen: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.

Police: Alright, where are you at?

Mateen: In Orlando.

Police: Where in Orlando?

[End of call].

Mateen then spoke to Orlando police's Crisis Negotiation Team three times after the first call.

During these communications, Mateen identified himself as an "Islamic soldier".

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Image caption Thousands convened in downtown Orlando on Sunday to remember the victims

An FBI spokesman told reporters Mateen spoke in a "chilling, calm and deliberate manner."

He said there was no evidence that a foreign terrorist group was behind the shooting and that Mateen was likely radicalised domestically.

Authorities had previously omitted IS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State, from the transcript, but re-issued a full version after facing a backlash.

Republican US House Speaker Paul Ryan said that to redact the transcript was "preposterous".

Why was Orlando 911 transcript redacted?

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Department of Justice said it redacted the transcript to avoid giving the killer a platform for "hateful propaganda" but it had unfortunately become a distraction.

Mateen told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that was why he was "out here right now".

The gunman later said he had a vest, describing it as the kind they "used in France".

At about 4:21 am, police removed an air conditioning unit from a Pulse dressing room window to help victims escape.

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Image caption Hundreds flock to the memorial every day

Some of those rescued told police the gunman said he was going to put four bomb vests on victims within 15 minutes but no such vests were found.

Members of a swat team stormed the building at about 05:00 local time, exchanging fire with Mateen before he was killed.

During the three-hour stand-off, there was no additional gunfire, police said.

The transcript release comes a day after thousands of people descended on downtown Orlando to remember the victims in a candlelight vigil.

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