Former Employer Says Orlando Shooter Had No Involvement in DHS Contracts

Employed Omar Mateen despite two FBI inquiries into his ties to terrorism

Undated photo of Omar Mateen
Undated photo of Omar Mateen / AP

A major U.S. security contractor is under scrutiny for its security screening process after it continued to employ Orlando shooter Omar Mateen despite two FBI inquiries into his ties to terrorism.

Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS before shooting up a popular gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, worked for the security firm G4S since 2007. Forty-nine people and Mateen were killed in the attack.

G4S is a British security firm that has contracted with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

A spokesperson for G4S told the Washington Free Beacon on Monday that Mateen did not have a U.S. security clearance and did not work on any federal contracts or have access to sensitive federal information.

Mateen worked as an armed custom protection officer at a Florida courthouse until three years ago. He went on to work as a security guard at a residential community.

The FBI first contacted Mateen for questioning in 2013 after colleagues said he made threatening statements about his connections to terrorism.

"He made statements that were inflammatory and contradictory, that concerned his coworkers, about terrorism," FBI Director James Comey said in a Monday press conference. Mateen claimed he had connections to al Qaeda and was a member of Hezbollah, according to Comey. The investigation was closed after 10 months.

Mateen came to the FBI’s attention again in 2014 in relation to a suicide bombing in Syria. The FBI said Mateen had associated with the bomber at a mosque in Florida, but the investigation "turned up no ties of any consequence."

Mateen continued to work with G4S despite the inquiries and complaints from coworkers. The company defended its screening process on Monday, saying in a statement that Mateen was "subject to detailed company screening when he was recruited in 2007 and re-screened in 2013 with no adverse findings."

National security experts on Monday questioned why a security company with a $200 million contract with DHS continued to employ Mateen after reports from his colleagues and two inquiries by the FBI.

According to G4S spokesman Nigel Fairbrass, Mateen was subject to the company’s standard screening process, which included a background criminal records check, a drivers’ license check, and a work references review. The company said the assessment did not turn up anything disqualifying.

"He didn’t work on any Department of Homeland Security roles. Had he done so, he probably would have required federal security clearance," Fairbrass said.

The firm’s share price slid Sunday after news that the attacker was an employee. According to CNBC, the company lost over $280 million in value on the London market.

G4S has come under fire in the past. Several of its detention centers have faced accusations of racism and assault by detainees, according to the Daily Telegraph, as well as abuse allegations at its juvenile prisons. The firm’s chief executive resigned in 2013 after it failed to provide enough security personnel to fulfill a massive contract for the London Olympics.