The night that Omar Mateen murdered 49 people and injured 53 people in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, he spoke with a police negotiator on the phone who attempted to talk him down.
The transcript of that conversation has now been released. A court ordered the FBI and Orlando police, who had previously kept the transcript secret, to release it to the public following a joint lawsuit submitted by several news organizations.
It has been published in full by the Washington Free Beacon.
The transcript recorded Omar Mateen identifying himself as “the person who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of [unidentified name].”
He said his specific reason for the attack was an airstrike that killed the Islamic State emir of Anbar province Abu Wahid in early May.
He repeatedly references the U.S. military campaigns against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in particular, but also mentions U.S. campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan more generally as motivating his attack.
One such comment reads, “You need to stop the U.S. air strikes. They need to stop the U.S. air strikes, okay?”
He also threatens more terrorist attacks saying, “Let it be known it’s going to be done in the name of the Islamic State, even though it’s not f—ing airstrikes, it’s f—ing strikes here, okay?”
It is worth noting that while he gives the airstrikes as the reason for the attack, given that the Islamic State’s stated goal is to conquer the world, it seems unlikely that ISIS would halt that ambition should the U.S. relent. A cessation of hostilities might buy the U.S. temporary respite, but ISIS will not be persuaded to change its core ideology by negotiation.
While the transcript was held back, media outlets speculated as to the motive of the Orlando gunman. Releasing the transcript earlier would have shown how Omar Mateen saw his own motivation and provided much needed clarity to the discussion.