FBI, DOJ Release Unredacted Transcript of Orlando Shooter’s 911 Call

Orlando shooter Omar Mateen / AP
• June 20, 2016 4:47 pm


The Justice Department on Monday afternoon released the full, unredacted transcript of a call between Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen and 911 operators on the night of the mass shooting after an earlier version of the transcript omitted the words "Islamic State" and the name of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The Justice Department made the decision to release the complete transcript after public pressure from Republican leaders and a number of media organizations.

Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others on June 12 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, made a 50 second call to 911 at about 2:35 a.m. during the massacre. He pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during the call.

"I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State," the unredacted transcript reads.

The original FBI release said, "I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted]."

The old version also described three crisis calls made the night of the shooting that showed Mateen telling a negotiator to stop bombing Iraq and Syria, a reference to efforts by a U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS’s core in both countries.

"There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are going to die, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid," Mateen told authorities, according to the transcript.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said the decision by the FBI and Justice Department to redact Mateen’s pledge to ISIS was "preposterous."

"We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS," Ryan said in a statement. "We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why."

The Justice Department called the uproar about the omissions in the original transcript "an unnecessary distraction" before reversing course and directing the FBI to release the complete version.

"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," both organizations said in a statement.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch had told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday, "What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda. We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to ISIS]."

The Orlando massacre has turned into a heated debate in Washington about how to appropriately respond.

Most Republican lawmakers have argued that the terrorist attack proves greater urgency is needed to defeat ISIS and enhance counterterrorism efforts. Democrats have pressed for gun control legislation in response to the shooting and are calling it a hate crime targeting the LGBT community.