ORLANDO (Christian Examiner) – The Orlando Police Department and FBI earlier today released a timeline of the terror attack at the Pulse nightclub, as well as partial transcripts of the conversations between ISIS-loyalist Omar Mateen and police negotiators.
As expected, the transcripts omitted references to the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
On Sunday on Meet the Press, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the government would not release portions of the transcript that "further proclaim this man's pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda."
The transcript released by police also contained another surprise that infuriated conservatives who claim the president and his administration are weak-kneed when it comes to associating terror cases with radical Islam. It changed references to Allah, the god of Islam, to God.
Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous. We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.
The call between Mateen and Orlando 911 begins with Mateen saying Arabic, "In the name of Allah the merciful, the beneficent." By way of comparison, the English translation in the redacted transcript reads, "In the name of God."
Mateen also declares in Arabic, "Praise be to Allah, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of Allah. I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings."
Both of the references to Allah in the statement of praise were also changed to "God."
After the release of the transcript of the 911 call with its deletions and changes, furor rose among conservative Republicans. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement calling the redactions an insult to Americans.
"Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous," Ryan said in the statement. "We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why."
Within hours, however, the Obama administration abruptly changed course, perhaps after seeing a voluminous number of critical comments online – some even from liberal quarters. Ryan then issued a second statement saying he was glad the administration had released the full transcript to the American people.
"But this should have never been an issue in the first place," Ryan said. "The attempt to selectively edit the record reflects a broader, more serious problem: this administration's continued effort to downplay and distract from the threat of radical Islamist extremism. This is unacceptable. To defeat terrorism we have to be clear-eyed about whom we're fighting."
On at least three occasions in the transcript, Mateen pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State and the same man who told Americans holding him in Iraq before his release, "I will see you guys in New York." Al-Baghdadi is seen by the followers of ISIS as the new caliph (spiritual and political leader) of Islam.
According to the timeline of the shooting, Mateen walked into the club at around 2 a.m. At 2:02 a.m., the first calls came into Orlando's 911 center. In it, people said there were multiple shots fired at the nightclub.
Officers from several law enforcement agencies were on hand within six minutes and engaged the shooter in a gun battle. Another call from Mateen to 911 lasted a short time and contained more of the terrorist's rantings about his allegiance to al-Baghdad.
Between 2:48 a.m. and 3:24 a.m., Mateen spoke with the police Crisis Negotiation Team. Those calls lasted 9 minutes, 16 minutes and three minutes, respectively.
According to the government's account, it was in these calls that Mateen pledge himself to ISIS and its leader, al-Baghdadi. He also told them there were improvised explosive devices outside of the club.
"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," Mateen said. He added that he also had an explosive vest like the kind ISIS terrorists "used in France" last year.
Those terrorists killed 103 people in three separate locations.
After Mateen hung up, and using information gleaned from eyewitness reports, police pulled an air conditioning unit out of the nightclub's dressing room and evacuated some victims. They later breached the nightclub's walls and opened fire on Mateen. He was killed instantly.