Justice

The Man Who Reported the Orlando Shooter to the FBI Proves Donald Trump Wrong

June 20th 2016

By:
Tricia Tongco

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is prone to making statements about minority groups that are both offensive and factually inaccurate.

The most recent example of this behavior came when Trump responded to the Pulse nightclub massacre that left 50 people dead by saying that Muslim Americans were unwilling to report extremists to law enforcement.

"They know what’s going on. They know that [Omar Mateen] was bad…They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. … But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death and destruction."

The facts don't match Trump's rhetoric.

The person who first told the FBI about Omar Mateen in 2014 was, in fact, a Muslim living in the United States. In a first-person essay at The Washington Post, that man, Mohammed A. Malik, makes a clear statement: "I reported Omar Mateen to the FBI. Trump is wrong that Muslims don’t do our part."

The essay gives a detailed account of who Mateen was, how Malik knew him, and what led him to report Mateen to the FBI.

According to the essay, Malik met Mateen in 2006 at an iftar meal at his brother-in-law's home. They both attended the same mosque, and Malik, an entrepreneur who had come to the U.S. from Pakistan at the age of 7 in 1979, tried to act as a mentor to the younger generation in his community, including Mateen. According to Malik, they would talk or text about a half-dozen times a year.

Omar Mateen

It was in 2014 when Malik saw the red flag that would lead him to report Mateen to the FBI. That summer, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, a young man from their local mosque who was known as "jovial and easygoing," had become "the first American-born suicide bomber, driving a truck full of explosives into a government office in Syria."

Malik writes that, according to a posthumous video, Abu-Salha had self-radicalized "by listening to the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, the charismatic Yemen-based imam who helped radicalize several Muslims, including the Fort Hood shooter." During a talk with Mateen about Abu-Salha's attack, Malik took note of Mateen's comments:

"That’s when Omar told me he had been watching videos of Awlaki, too, which immediately raised red flags for me. He told me the videos were very powerful.

After speaking with Omar, I contacted the FBI again to let them know that Omar had been watching Awlaki’s tapes. He hadn’t committed any acts of violence and wasn’t planning any, as far as I knew."

He writes about what happened next:

"I never heard from them about Omar again, but apparently they did their job: They looked into him and, finding nothing to go on, they closed the file."

Malik concludes with what exactly motivated him to report Mateen to the FBI:

I had told the FBI about Omar because my community, and Muslims generally, have nothing to hide. I love this country, like most Muslims that I know. I don’t agree with every government policy (I think there’s too much money in politics, for instance), but I’m proud to be an American.

Malik's story highlights the problematic way that Muslims are forced to act as spokespeople for their entire religion in the wake of a terrorist attack. Even though many Muslims have found this imposition unreasonable, hashtags like #NotInMyName Twitter have aimed to let people know that Muslims are not synonymous with ISIS.

Read the rest of Malik's essay at The Washington Post.