As investigators and the public attempt to process Omar Mateen’s murder of 49 people at an Orlando gay club, attention has turned to the gunman’s upbringing. And Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, is giving people a lot to work with.
The elder Mateen was born in Afghanistan. Officials haven’t said exactly when he immigrated to the United States, but it was before the birth of 29-year-old Omar, who was born in New York, according to the Washington Post. The Daily Beast reports that Seddique owns a nonprofit company, The Durand Jirga, Inc., the purpose of which is unclear.
Since reporters first contacted him on Sunday, Seddique has maintained that Omar’s rampage was motivated by homophobia, as opposed to religious extremism. “I think he just wanted to boast of himself,” he told the Post of Omar’s declaration of support for ISIS. “No radicalism, no. He doesn’t have a beard even … I don’t think religion or Islam had anything to do with this.” He told NBC News that his son recently became “very angry” upon seeing two men kissing each other in public.
Seddique appears to be at least somewhat anti-gay himself. As CBS News first reported, in a video posted to Facebook page on Monday morning, Seddique said he was “very saddened” by his son’s actions before stating that, “God will punish those involved in homosexuality” and that it’s “not an issue that humans should deal with.”
Later in the day, Seddique contacted CBS to temper his remarks: “He doesn’t have the right, nobody has the right to harm anything, anybody. What a person’s lifestyle is, is up to him. It’s a free country. Everybody has their own choice to live the way they want to live.” He also told the Post that he hoped to eventually visit those affected by the shooting: “If they’re not ready, I still say to them, ‘I’m sorry. I’m saddened for their injury or if they lost their dear one.”
Seddique’s anti-gay statements aren’t the only notable thing on his Facebook page, which had over 8,000 followers before the shooting (it now has more). From CBS:
In his Facebook videos, the alleged gunman’s father has often appeared wearing a military uniform and declaring himself the leader of a “transitional revolutionary government” of Afghanistan. He claims to have his own intelligence agency and close ties to the U.S. Congress — assets he says he will use to subvert Pakistani influence and take control of Afghanistan.
After watching his videos — none of which were recorded in English — CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar said it seemed possible that Seddique Mateen is delusional. “He thinks he runs a government in exile and will soon take the power in Kabul in a revolution,” notes Mukhtar.
Seddique also hosts the Durand Jirga Show on a California-based TV station aimed at Afghans living in the United States and Europe. According to what someone described as a “senior Afghan intelligence source” told CBS, Seddique is a vocal supporter of the Taliban. This person said that the show has a “Pashtun nationalistic, pro-Taliban slant” and is “full of anti-U.S. rhetoric and inflammatory language aimed at non-Pashtuns and at Pakistan.” In the past, he’s reportedly declared himself a candidate for the presidency of Afghanistan.
The most recent video on Mateen’s YouTube channel shows him declaring his candidacy for the Afghan presidency. The timing of the video is strange, as it came a year after presidential elections were held in Afghanistan.
Mateen appears incoherent at times in the video, and he jumps abruptly from topic to topic. His use of Dari, instead of Pashto, the language of Pashtuns, was another strange element of his presentation, given that he is discussing issues of Pashtun nationalism.
“People would make jokes of this guy, especially after videos surfaced of him claiming to be the president in exile,” said one senior Afghan government official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to media. “He looked very serious, but no one could tell what he was talking about.”
In his interviews with the Post and CBS, Seddique said that his goals for Omar had included “[getting] higher education” and becoming a “servant of the United States,” and that he “would have called” the authorities if he’d suspected his son of planning violence. He added that he saw his son over the weekend and that nothing seemed to be amiss: “He was well behaved. His appearance was perfect. I didn’t see any sign of worrying or being upset or nervous.”