The father of the Orlando nightclub gunman said his son committed “an act of terror” by carrying out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“His act was a terror act, but as far him being a terrorist. I’m not aware of,” said the father, Seddique Mateen in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon. “This is the worst thing that can happen for a father to see a son act like this.”
The elder Mateen said he didn’t see any signs of trouble before his son, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, walked into the popular gay nightclub Pulse early Sunday morning, where authorities say he killed 49 people.
His son had been attentive to his work, his family and made regular visits to his parents, said Seddique Mateen. He said his son did not have mental health issues and hadn’t show signs of being radicalized.
“I’m really speechless what he did. I don’t forgive him as a father,” Mateen said. “I wish I had an opportunity to talk to him about why he did what he did.”
The gunman, a 29-year-old former security guard, was born in New York. His parents came from Afghanistan, according to a U.S. official.
Views on gay relationships
Mateen said that previously, his son had seen two men kissing in public, near women and children. His son “had a reaction” and the whole sighting “was surprising to him.”
He didn’t clarify further what kind of reaction that his son had.
Mateen also wanted to know from his son: “Why did you go to that club?”
The father said he personally believed through his religious teachings that people are meant to be in heterosexual relationships, but that he did not judge the way of life for other people. He said only God was to judge, and that it was not for him to critique people’s lifestyle.
Mateen said that he disagreed with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
He said an entire religious group should not be held responsible for the actions of one person.
“My son is responsible for his behavior,” he said.
But he avoided Lemon’s question on whether he felt responsible for what happened.
Father chimes in on purported ISIS allegiance
Although the shooter made calls to 911, pledging allegiance to ISIS, his father said he had never seen signs of his son becoming radicalized.
The elder Mateen condemned the terror group, calling it “the enemy of humanity.”
“The way they conduct themselves, they’re harming everybody. They’re not a religious group. I don’t know what they are,” he said. “They’re a killer group.”
The gunman had been questioned by the FBI in two terror-related cases, but both matters had been closed.
According to one official, analysis of Mateen’s electronic devices showed searches for jihadist propaganda, including ISIS beheading videos.
“He consumed a hell of a lot of jihadist propaganda” online, the source said.
Mateen expressed sadness for the victims.
“That 50 people [those who were killed] are my family. The people who got injured, they are my family. I care for them. I’m very sad for them. They love their loved ones.”