Yesterday I mentioned how the U.S. Attorney General said that when the transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s calls to police were released, they would be censored to avoid “furthering his propaganda.” I and others objected strenuously, as it wouldn’t tell us much we didn’t know already, and was just another bit of the government’s patronizing and unsuccesful attempt to avoid implicating religion in the deed. (This avoidance of naming religious inspiration for terrorists was called “The Voldemort Effect” by Maajid Nawaz.)
Well, now Mateen’s initial 911 call, in which he mentioned religion, has been released, uncensored, by the FBI, and of course the source is Fox News, though the transcripts themselves come from Heavy.com. And those of who you said the government had a valid excuse to protect national security will learn that you were wrong.
Others justified the redaction on the grounds that releasing the “allegiance” would cause a backlash of violence against American Muslims. Now that the full transcript has been released, let us see if that will happen. I predict not, for, after all, what Omar said has been widely known for some time (it was overheard by some of the nightclub patrons), and there’s no sign of a backlash yet. If you predicted one and it didn’t materialize, please admit below that you were wrong!
On to the report. Fox notes that the FBI’s decision to not censor the call was because the censored bits constituted an “unnecessary” distraction. The real reason was that Senators—sadly, mostly Republicans—objected strenuously.
The FBI and DOJ reversed the morning decision and released the full transcript in an afternoon news release.
“Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations 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 organizations said in a statement.
The only complete transcript released was of the 911 calls. Several calls made later to crisis negotiators were only released in summarized form with few direct quotes provided.
Under pressure from Republican leaders, the Justice Department on Monday afternoon reversed itself and released a full, uncensored transcript of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 call on the night of the massacre, calling the morning’s furor over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction.”
An earlier version of the transcript had deleted the word “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to Islamic State’s leader at 2:35 a.m. The call came just over a half hour into the June 12 slaughter at gay nightclub Pulse.
“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen says on the new transcript.
The old version had several words scrubbed and read: “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”
Here’s the transcript of the 911 call; the communications after that with police are not given verbatim, but summarized by the FBI and reproduced at the site. I’ve put the part the government didn’t want us to see in bold.
2:02 a.m.: OPD call transmitted multiple shots fired at Pulse nightclub.
2:04a.m.: Additional OPD officers arrived on scene.
2:08 a.m.: Officers from various law enforcement agencies made entrance to Pulse and engaged the shooter.
2:18 a.m.: OPD S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons & Tactics) initiated a full call-out.
2:35 a.m.: Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse. The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:
Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [said in Arabic]
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [said in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
OD: What’s your name?
OM:My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
OD: Ok, What’s your name?
OM:I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [said in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
OD: Alright, where are you at?
OM: In Orlando.
OD: Where in Orlando?
[End of call.]
The further information released by the FBI is along these lines:
In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.” When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.” The shooter continued, stating, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.” Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France.” The shooter later stated, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.” The shooter hung up and multiple attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.
So, folks, you now see what the government didn’t want us to see. The attempted redaction is ridiculous, and there’s simply no valid excuse to remove those words.
I predict no outbreak of violence against Muslims after the names of al-Baghdadi and Islamic State were released. Obama and the Justice Department were simply being patronizing and clueless.
As for whether or not you believe Mateen was motivated at least in part by his faith, well, you can judge for yourself. It’s possible that Mateen simply cited ISIS and its leader as false reasons, and the real motivation was, as some surmise, homophobia. It’s now seems likely that both religion and homophobia were involved in this, for as a British gay Muslim who almost committed terrorism said on the Rachel Maddow show, that’s an explosive mix. For those who claim that only homophobia was involved, and that religion had nothing to do with it, one then must postulate why Mateen still mentioned Islam. After all, when Christians kill abortion doctors in the name of their faith, there’s no rush to deny that.