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Orlando gunman apparently searched Facebook during attack

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Aphoto combination showed victims of the mass shooting that occurred early Sunday at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Top row from left are: Amanda Alvear, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, Antonio Davon Brown, Christopher Leinonen, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Darryl Roman Burt II, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Enrique L. Rios Jr., Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera and Frank Hernandez. Second row from left are: Franky Jimmy De Jesus Velazquez, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Kimberly Morris and Leroy Valentin Fernandez. Third row from left are: Luis D. Conde, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Luis S. Vielma, Martin Benitez Torres, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Miguel Angel Honorato, Oscar A Aracena-Montero, Paul Terrell Henry, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz and Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala. Bottom row from left are: Shane Evan Tomlinson, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Stanley Almodovar III, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Geraldo Ortiz-Jimenez and Juan Chavez Martinez.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The names of victims from the Pulse nightclub shooting were stitched into an American flag as it’s displayed at a makeshift memorial Wednesday in Orlando, Fla.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Kathleen Kerr, of Orlando, Fla., held flowers before placing them down at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse Orlando nightclub Tuesday in Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. » While his victims texted heartbreaking last words to loved ones from the blood-drenched bathrooms, Omar Mateen apparently went on Facebook to measure the shockwaves his attack on a gay nightclub was generating.

He searched for the terms “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting,” according to a letter released by a Senate committee.

The letter detailing Mateen’s Facebook posts and searches in the final hours of his life came to light as grief-stricken Orlando prepared to bury the first of the 49 dead and awaited a visit today from President Barack Obama, who planned to meet with victims’ families and first responders and offer words of solace.

Investigators, meanwhile, are trying to reconstruct Mateen’s movements before the rampage at the Pulse dance club and are taking a close look at his 30-year-old Palestinian-American wife, Noor Salman, and what she may have known about the attack.

“The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west,” Mateen, a 29-year-old American-born Muslim, wrote on one of at least five Facebook accounts believed to be associated with him, according to the letter from Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The committee sent the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking for help uncovering the trail of hate Mateen left behind in cyberspace. Johnson did not explain how the committee obtained the information about Mateen’s Facebook activity.

According to the letter, Mateen made his series of Facebook posts and searches before and during the attack. The letter did not specify what took place when. But a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly said the Facebook posts came moments before the attack began.

“America and Russia stop bombing the Islamic state,” Mateen wrote, according to the letter.

As he did in his call to a 911 operator during the massacre, Mateen pledged his allegiance on Facebook to the leader of the Islamic State group and, in his final post, warned: “in the next few days you will see attacks from the Islamic state in the usa.”

However, CIA Director John Brennan said today that the agency has found no connection between the gunman and any foreign terrorist organization.

“As we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group,” Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Last month, for example, a senior ISIL figure publicly urged the group’s followers to conduct attacks in their home countries if they were unable to travel to Syria and Iraq.”

Facebook had no immediate comment on the Senate request for help.

The three-hour rampage began at 2 a.m. and ended three hours later with Mateen being killed by a police SWAT team. The FBI said it is still gathering evidence at Pulse and analyzing cellphone location data to piece together Mateen’s activities leading up to the massacre.

On Saturday night, hours before the rampage, Mateen visited Disney Springs, an outdoor restaurant, retail and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World, an official who was briefed on the case but insisted on anonymity to discuss the continuing investigation told The Associated Press.

The official said it is not clear what Mateen was up to.

Mateen’s wife has gone into seclusion. U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley repeatedly refused on Wednesday to say whether charges might be brought against her or anyone else.

Six of the wounded remained in critical condition, and three others were listed in guarded condition.

Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Jack Gillum in Washington; Jay Reeves and Allen G. Breed in Orlando; and Brandon Bailey in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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  • “However, CIA Director John Brennan said today that the agency has found no connection between the gunman and any foreign terrorist organization.”

    …foreign terrorist organization – apparently Brennan, like the President can’t bring himself to utter the words Islamic terrorist organization.

    “As we have seen in Orlando, San Bernardino and elsewhere, ISIL is attempting to inspire attacks by sympathizers who have no direct links to the group,” Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    An utterly worthless statement by Brennan as “sympathizers” and “the group” share a common ideology – which serves as the direct link. When the shooter pledged his allegiance to ISIS he directly linked himself to them.

    • Direct: “without intervening persons, influences, factors, etc.; immediate; personal”

      You may want to reassess your notion of what a “direct link” is. Not sure why you care so much about such an insignificant point. It would be nice if people would stop trying to politicize this tragedy to advance their own rhetoric.

      In any case, thank you to AP and SA for refraining from posting the shooter’s photo and for choosing instead to remember the faces of the victims.

      • So when the shooter publically pledged his allegiance to ISIS, tell me just exactly who/what was the intervening person/factor? There was none so ironically your definition undermines your own argument.
        If you fail to see the significance and instead merely label it as politics then you also fail to address the problem and come up with appropriate solutions.

        • So if a crazed guman expresses support for and allegiance to Donald Trump right before he kills 20 Trump protestors, he has a direct link to Donald Trump? Even if he’s had no actual direct communication with Donald Trump or anyone in Trump’s organization, we can say he’s directly linked to Donald Trump? That kind of logic is completely devoid of..well…logic and reality.

        • @ HIE I’m pretty sure that unless you’ve completely cloistered yourself from the news and world events, then you are well aware that ISIS in the Middle East on a consistent and regular basis, calls on all Muslims living in Western countries to rise up and commit acts of jihad upon the infidels. Unfortunately, the shooter in this case heeded the call and responded to the invitation. Is that not a direct link? Isis invited and the shooter accepted. Any more questions?

          Let’s scrutinize your argument. If Trump did call upon his supporters to do what you describe and one of them did it, then yes – everyone including myself would declare that it is directly linked. However, your scenario is devoid of logic and reality in that UNLIKE ISIS, Trump has issued no such call to his supporters to do likewise. Absent of any Trump invitation, no link can be established between a crazed Trump gunman and Donald Trump.

        • @ d_bullfighter Except you’re wrong. Trump has called for his supporters to act against Trump protestors with violence. He’s even said he’d pay their legal bills.

  • The gun this guy used was banned until 2004 (VP Biden said if Gore got elected back then, the ban would still be on, ie it was the NRA’s influence), it exists in Canada but because regulations are much stricter there – it is not used for killing people. When a gun is made to set off that many bullets in such a short time span, it is made for killing. Don’t let the NRA stop any new legislation – national or state – from growing through that will put restrictions on owning any firearm. The following legislators were on the Hawaii NRA website as being endorsed…with elections coming around, let’s make sure that if they are up for election….they don’t get in. The NRA is irresponsible about human lives.
    Henry Aquino
    Isaac Choy
    Ty Cullen
    Lynn DeCoite
    Sharon Har
    Ken Ito
    Jo Jordan
    Derek Kawakami
    Sam Kong
    Bob McDermott
    Marcus Oshiro
    Calvin Say
    James Tokioka
    Andria Tupola
    Ryan Yamane

    • I think the NRA is changing its position. They are going to call it a Trump Proposal for barring anyone on the terrorist watch list from buying a gun– essentially the same as the Democrats wanted, but different wording and making it scarier to get off the list.

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