Mateen first appeared on authorities’ radar in 2013 after the security guard’s colleagues alerted the FBI to inflammatory statements he made to colleagues claiming “family connections to Al Qaeda,” according to Comey.
Mateen also told coworkers he had a family member who belonged to Hezbollah, a Shia network that is a bitter enemy of ISIS — the network he pledged allegiance to the night of the carnage, Comey noted.
The FBI’s Miami office opened an inquiry into Mateen.
“He said he hoped that law enforcement would raid his apartment and assault his wife and child so he could martyr himself,” Comey said.
Nevertheless, FBI investigators investigated Mateen, who was born in New York, for 10 months. They introduced him to confidential informants, spied on his communications and followed him. They also interviewed him twice.
For more than a year ending in April — a time during which investigators will now be looking for any clues from Mateen that might have been missed — the FBI in Miami focused on a counterterrorism sting that targeted James Medina, a homeless man with mental problems.
Nearly a year before Medina’s arrest, the FBI’s Miami office arrested another supposed terrorist, 23-year-old Cuban-American Harlem Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, whom former co-workers described as “a little slow.” The government alleged that Suarez conspired with an FBI informant to bomb a beach in Key West in support of the Islamic State. The FBI provided a fake backpack bomb.
The Orlando shooting isn’t the first case to raise this question. In 2011, when the FBI investigated Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, agents did not deem him a threat.
Instead, at about the same time, the Boston FBI started a nine-month sting operation against Rezwan Ferdaus, who had no weapons and no connections to international terrorists, andwhose mental wellness had deteriorated so much that he was wearing adult diapers at the time of his arrest on terrorism charges.
|Image: The FBI provided Ferdaus with thousands of dollars to purchase various pieces of equipment for his planned “drone attack” on Washington D.C.|
According to the affidavit, on November 4, 2010, Mohamud and the undercover FBI operatives traveled to a remote location in Lincoln County, Ore., where they detonated a bomb concealed in a backpack as a trial run for the upcoming attack.
|Image: The bomb the FBI constructed for the Portland “Christmas tree bomber.”|
According to a counterterrorism official, El Khalifi “expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times,” the Associated Press writes. During the year-long investigation, El Khalifi detonated explosives at a quarry in the capital region with undercover operatives. He is not believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, officials said.