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In an op-ed published this week in The Washington Post, Mohammed Malik stated that he reported the radicalized Muslim gunman Omar Mateen to the FBI after learning the killer was listening to an imam linked to terrorism.
In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, there’s little doubt that the FBI was familiar with Mateen. Malik’s confession further supports that determination — it also adds to the charge by critics that the FBI should have done more to stop Mateen.
Malik notes that he’s a Bernie Sanders supporter — he says Mateen “liked Hillary Clinton” — and his op-ed seems intent on proving presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump wrong for saying Muslims don’t “turn in the people who they know are bad.”
“I know this firsthand: I was the one who told the FBI about Omar Mateen,” Malik wrote.
He says he met Mateen in 2006 and they slowly developed a relationship over time, but it wasn’t until a member of their mosque became the first American-born suicide bomber that Malik began to have concerns about his friend.
In 2014, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha drove a truck full of explosives into a government office in Syria and it was later determined that he had self-radicalized after listening to Yemen-based Imam Anwar al-Awlaki — the same imam who radicalized Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.
Malik said he called the FBI after seeing that they were looking for people to provide some background on Abu-Salha.
He explained what happened next:
After my talk with the FBI, I spoke to people in the Islamic community, including Omar, about Moner’s attack. I wondered how he could have radicalized. Both Omar and I attended the same mosque as Moner, and the imam never taught hate or radicalism. That’s when Omar told me he had been watching videos of Awlaki, too, which immediately raised red flags for me. He told me the videos were very powerful.
After speaking with Omar, I contacted the FBI again to let them know that Omar had been watching Awlaki’s tapes. He hadn’t committed any acts of violence and wasn’t planning any, as far as I knew. And I thought he probably wouldn’t, because he didn’t fit the profile: He already had a second wife and a son. But it was something agents should keep their eyes on.
Malik went on to say that he and Mateen had infrequent conversations over the next few years and that he last saw him at a dinner at his father’s house in January.
He also explained why he called the FBI about the man who would later kill 49 people and wound another 53.
“I had told the FBI about Omar because my community, and Muslims generally, have nothing to hide,” Malik said. “I love this country, like most Muslims that I know. I don’t agree with every government policy (I think there’s too much money in politics, for instance), but I’m proud to be an American.”
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