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ISIS Praises Orlando Shooter as 'Soldier of Caliphate in America'

06-13-2016
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The Islamic State is praising the man who carried out the deadliest terrorist shooting on American soil, calling him "one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America."

Omar Mateen, 29, shot and killed at least 49 people Sunday at a gay night club, claiming he did it for ISIS.

ISIS has called on Muslims in the West to carry out "lone wolf" attacks. How serious is the ISIS threat in U.S.? Terrorism analyst Erick Stakelbeck addresses that and more on Monday edition of The 700 Club. Click play to watch.

"This is an open investigation," President Barack Obama stressed. "We have reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism."

Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy, describes him as abusive and bipolar and says she has had no contact with him for seven years.

"In the beginning he was a normal being that cared about family, loved to joke, loved to have fun," she recalled. "But a few months after we were married I saw that he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere." 

"When he would get in his tempers, he would express hate toward things. Toward everything," Yusifiy said. "In the moments you would see his emotional instability and he would turn totally different."

Mateen worked as a security guard at G4S, which bills itself as the leading U.S. security company. He legally purchased at least two firearms within the last week or so.

Meanwhile, Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says Mateen does not represent the Muslim community in anyway.

"This is a hate crime, plain and simple," he said. "We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It violates our principles as Americans and as Muslims. Let me be clear -- we have no tolerance for extremism of any kind."

The FBI had interviewed Mateen twice because of his ties with known terrorists but didn't find him to be a threat.

But on Sunday, Mateen, an American citizen who'd pledged allegiance to ISIS, held clubgoers hostage for three hours until SWAT teams stormed the establishment.

Up to 150,000 members of the LGBT community were said to be in Orlando in June for Gay Pride Month, one of the largest pride events in the world. The city had recently wrapped up celebrations when terror struck the community at Pulse nightclub Sunday.

Around 300 patrons packed the club Saturday night, with almost a third falling victim to Mateen's bullets. Eyewitnesses recounted the terrifying scene.

"And all of the sudden, we heard like a 'boom boom' and we thought it was like the stereo and we were like, 'Oh my goodness, is something going on with the, you know, the music?'" club bartender Tiffany Johnson recalled.

"And after the second shot there was a pause and then it just started shooting, shooting, shooting shooting," Johnson said. "And that's when we knew something was wrong, and everybody just dropped to the ground and then people started running."

Meanwhile, churches around Orlando are opening their doors for special services and vigils throughout the week, and worship bands are heading to memorials near the scene to comfort and support the gathered mourners.

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