Justice Department finally releases full, unredacted version of Omar Mateen’s 911 call. Nothing to see here, folks; move along

June 21, 2016 • 9:45 am

Yesterday I mentioned how the U.S. Attorney General said that when the transcripts of Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen’s calls to police were released, they would be censored to avoid “furthering his propaganda.” I and others objected strenuously, as it wouldn’t tell us much we didn’t know already, and was just another bit of the government’s patronizing and unsuccesful attempt to avoid implicating religion in the deed. (This avoidance of naming religious inspiration for terrorists was called “The Voldemort Effect” by Maajid Nawaz.)

Well, now Mateen’s initial 911 call, in which he mentioned religion, has been released, uncensored, by the FBI, and of course the source is Fox News, though the transcripts themselves come from Heavy.com And those of who you said the government had a valid excuse to protect national security will learn that you were wrong.

Others justified the redaction on the grounds that releasing the “allegiance” would cause a backlash of violence against American Muslims. Now that the full transcript has been released, let us see if that will happen. I predict not, for, after all, what Omar said has been widely known for some time (it was overheard by some of the nightclub patrons), and there’s no sign of a backlash yet. If you predicted one and it didn’t materialize, please admit below that you were wrong!

On to the report. Fox notes that the FBI’s decision to not censor the call was because the censored bits constituted an “unnecessary” distraction. The real reason was that Senators—sadly, mostly Republicans—objected strenuously.

Heavy gives the transcripts, such as they are, after a brief introduction (my emphasis):

Under pressure from Republican leaders, the Justice Department on Monday afternoon reversed itself and released a full, uncensored transcript of the Orlando terrorist’s 911 call on the night of the massacre, calling the morning’s furor over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction.”

An earlier version of the transcript had deleted the word “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to Islamic State’s leader at 2:35 a.m. The call came just over a half hour into the June 12 slaughter at gay nightclub Pulse.

“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen says on the new transcript.

The old version had several words scrubbed and read: “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”

Here’s the transcript of the 911 call; the communications after that with police are not given verbatim, but summarized by the FBI and reproduced at the site. I’ve put the part the government didn’t want us to see in bold.

911 call:

2:02 a.m.: OPD call transmitted multiple shots fired at Pulse nightclub.
2:04a.m.: Additional OPD officers arrived on scene.
2:08 a.m.: Officers from various law enforcement agencies made entrance to Pulse and engaged the shooter.
2:18 a.m.: OPD S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons & Tactics) initiated a full call-out.
2:35 a.m.: Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse. The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:

Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
Shooter (OM)

OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.

OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [said in Arabic]

OD: What?

OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [said in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.

OD: What’s your name?

OM:
My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.

OD: Ok, What’s your name?

OM:I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [said in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.

OD: Alright, where are you at?

OM: In Orlando.

OD: Where in Orlando?

[End of call.]

The further information released by the FBI is along these lines:

In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.” When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.” The shooter continued, stating, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.” Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France.” The shooter later stated, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.” The shooter hung up and multiple attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.

So, folks, you now see what the government didn’t want us to see. The attempted redaction is ridiculous, and there’s simply no valid excuse to remove those words.

I predict no outbreak of violence against Muslims after the names of al-Baghdadi and Islamic State were released. Obama and the Justice Department were simply being patronizing and clueless.

As for whether or not you believe Mateen was motivated at least in part by his faith, well, you can judge for yourself. It’s possible that Mateen simply cited ISIS and its leader as false reasons, and the real motivation was, as some surmise, homophobia. It’s now seems likely that both religion and homophobia were involved in this, for as a British gay Muslim who almost committed terrorism said on the Rachel Maddow show, that’s an explosive mix. For those who claim that only homophobia was involved, and that religion had nothing to do with it, one then must postulate why Mateen still mentioned Islam. After all, when Christians kill abortion doctors in the name of their faith, there’s no rush to deny that. 

21 thoughts on “Justice Department finally releases full, unredacted version of Omar Mateen’s 911 call. Nothing to see here, folks; move along

  1. I used to think that some parties’ aversion to acknowledging Islam’s hate speech was overblown, but I’ve recently had several discussions in which no explicit piece of evidence could reach the person/people on the other side of the conversation. I figured that if I could articulate things *just so*, then I could make my point sink.

  2. This is what it sounds like when fairies infect the self-evident.

    Me: I am hungry.
    Fairies: No you are not.
    Me: I am tired too.
    Fairies: Clearly you are deflecting your true feelings.
    Me: No, I am tired, hot, and hungry.
    Fairies: You just say those things because you don’t want people to know what really burdens you.
    Me: OK, I am sorry.
    Fairies: No you are not.

  3. I’m still standing by my point from the last thread: Releasing the full transcript = more votes for Trump.

    (Obviously censorship is baaaaad…)

    1. But isn’t that one of those predictions that can never be proven? One thing we do know is that redacting and withholding from the public helps create all kinds of unnecessary conspiracy theories and all types of mistrust in government. The CIA is probably our number one redactor and what does anyone have to say good about the CIA.

    2. That makes it all the more important to oppose the censorship. We really want the government censoring on the basis of who will benefit in an election??

      1. Nope… But, clearly, it wasn’t beneath them to try…

        As much contempt as I have for censorship, I have vastly more for politics and politicians.

        1. “Truth” is a product of facts: all science is based on it, as well as all critical and rational thinking. Although the comment about votes for Trump may sadly be true, it will at the very least give us more TRUE information as to just how ignorant and biased the American populace is; something we need to know in order to fully comprehend it and combat it. Just as the banner of the website, “The Straight Dope” says, “Fighting ignorance since 1976 (it’s taken longer than we thought)”

  4. What would some of our favorite book titles look like in this “no propaganda” patronizing safe space world?

    Why [omitted] Is True
    [omitted] vs Fact
    The End of [omitted]
    Letter To A [omitted] Nation
    [omitted] Is Not Great: How [omitted]Poisons Everything
    The [omitted] Delusion

  5. I have no patience whatever with beating around the bush with language for the purpose of domestic politics. I also don’t believe that redaction or euphemism is necessary to forestall attacks by US citizens on domestic Muslim communities.

    But here’s the hard nut of the problem as I see it: The Muslim radicals who are fomenting attacks against the US are all Sunnis of the Salafist/Wahhabist school. Both al Qaeda and ISIL fit this description; both represent a cross-pollination of the fundamentalist, retrograde Salafism typical of the Saudi madrassas and the violent jihadism of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

    (This ideology has long germinated in the Egyptian prison system, and came to its full fruition in the Qaeda partnership of the Saudi Osama bin Laden and the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, which then spread to al Qaeda in Iraq, which subsequently morphed into ISIL.)

    As a matter of diagnosing and addressing the current peril, it is sound strategy to identify the underlying ideology as specifically as possible. But to do so may be impolitic as a matter of diplomatic démarche with our Islamic allies, and would-be allies.

  6. I wonder what are the percentages of mosques that are Sunni, Shia (and their more nuanced subdivisions), and other versions of Islam, in the U.S. To which ought the earnest, non-Muslim Western infidel, seeking wisdom and enlightenment, rush to consult? Why one and not another? Which one has (slightly) more radical tendencies than others, and Who Sez? Does some functionary in the U.S. government have a list of “radical” and “non-radical” Islamic entities and, if so, on what basis and by what warrant? Is it up to the POTUS to make such a determination? If how, how is that functionary empowered to pass judgment? Don’t some Muslims claim that the Koran and Hadith can only be properly “interpreted” in the original Arabic?

    (I have a list of “cults” generated by the Southern Baptist Convention twenty or so years ago. I don’t believe that the RCC was on it but, no doubt, So. Baptists would view themselves less a cult than the RCC.)

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