Orlando shooting: The shooter

Ex-wife says he was mentally unstable, violent

Mourners at a vigil to remember the victims at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro District on Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. People gathering in shock and grief (above) in the streets near
Mourners at a vigil to remember the victims at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro District on Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Mourners at a vigil to remember the victims at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro District on Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. People gathering in shock and grief (above) in the streets near
Omar, who was American and born to Afghan immigrants, carried out the attack with a handgun and an assault rifle.
Mourners at a vigil to remember the victims at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro District on Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. People gathering in shock and grief (above) in the streets near
People gathering in shock and grief (above) in the streets near the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando after the massacre on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mourners at a vigil to remember the victims at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco's Castro District on Sunday. Forty-nine people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. People gathering in shock and grief (above) in the streets near
A handout photo (above) shows injured people following the attack. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Omar 'abused her but wasn't a religious extremist'; FBI interviewed him twice but could not verify terror links

FORT PIERCE (Florida) • Omar Mateen's life seemed to be on a successful trajectory a decade before he carried out the worst case of mass murder in American history.

He earned an associate degree in criminal justice technology in 2006. A year later, he was hired to work as a security officer by one of the world's premier private security companies, G4S. And then, in 2009, he got married and bought a home.

Soon, though, signs of trouble emerged. His wife, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, divorced him in 2011 after he abused her.

Two years after that, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was called in after reports by Omar's colleagues that he, the American-born son of Afghan immigrants, suggested he might have had terrorist ties. The FBI interviewed him twice, but could not verify any terrorist links.

Former co-worker Daniel Gilroy said on Sunday that Omar "talked about killing people all the time".

The exact reason why the 29- year-old walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando early on Sunday with a handgun and an assault rifle he recently bought was still under investigation.

The attack was classified as an act of domestic terrorism because Omar called 911 to swear allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group before or during the shooting. ISIS yesterday claimed responsibility for the mass shooting, saying in a radio bulletin that it was carried out by Omar, "one of the soldiers of the caliphate".

But on Sunday, Omar's father Seddique Mir Mateen insisted the attack had nothing to do with religion. He said Omar had seen two men kissing recently and was angry that his three-year-old son had also seen it.

Media reports described Mr Seddique as a fringe political commentator who rails against Pakistan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"We are in shock like the whole country," he said. "This had nothing to do with religion."

Omar's former wife, Ms Sitora Yusufiy, said he was violent and mentally unstable - but was not a religious extremist.

"A few months after we were married, I saw his instability, and I saw that he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere," Ms Yusufiy told reporters outside her home in Boulder, Colorado.

"After a few months, he started abusing me physically... not allowing me to speak to my family, keeping me hostage from them."

When she first met Omar online in 2008, she said, he was a funny charmer with a decent job and aspirations to become a police officer. But once they were married, he made her hand over her pay cheques from her day-care job and prevented her from calling her parents. He also kept a handgun at home.

Omar, she said, was a practising Muslim but showed no signs of radicalisation.

Imam Syed Shafeeq Rahman of the Islamic Centre of Fort Pierce, where Omar worshipped, said he went for evening prayers three or four times a week with his son, and left as soon as services ended.

Ms Yusufiy said he had made anti-gay comments when he was angry. "There were definitely moments when he'd express his intolerance towards homosexuals," she said.

She said she left Omar in 2011 with her parents' help and has had no contact with him except for once, when he tried to send her a message on Facebook.

"I thought I had closed the chapter on this horrible mistake," said Ms Yusufiy.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-wife says he was mentally unstable, violent'. Print Edition | Subscribe