The father of Orlando killer Omar Mateen said Wednesday that his son was also a victim of terrorism and called for President Barack Obama as well as leaders in Europe to defeat the Islamic State group.
“Today I was thinking why this happened and for what reason this happened,” Seddique Mateen told reporters at a news conference Wednesday outside his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “My thought is that my son, the people that passed away, they are my family, and the other people that got injured, were are all victims of terrorism,” he said.
He said that if the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, did not exist, the tragedy would not have happened. His son killed 49 people and wounded 53 more, many seriously, at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday morning.
While the shooter claimed allegiance to ISIS during the attack, he is also thought to have been motivated by anti-gay feelings. Before the crime, the younger Mateen had used gay phone apps and frequented the Pulse nightclub where his attack took place, CNN reported. His father has denied his son was gay, but the killer’s ex-wife said she was not sure about his sexuality.
On Wednesday, the shooter’s father focused on the threat of terrorism and how ISIS affected his son and other young people.
“I want to get my message out to youngsters there: Don’t fall in the trap of this ISIS killer group, they are anti-family, anti-community, anti-religion killer group,” the father said. “I want especially the wonderful President Obama and the heads of the governments in Europe all over the world to destroy and eliminate this group because they frame youngsters all over the world. It’s a very sad group. If there was no ISIS group, probably, I would have my son.”
The elder Mateen also condemned his son’s actions again, saying that he did not know his son had been radicalized and he “would have informed on him.”
After the slaughter Sunday, many news outlets reported that the gunman’s father had posted videos about Afghan politics on his Facebook page and had expressed anti-homosexual views. In one post, he wrote: “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” and added that it is “not an issue that humans should deal with.”