FBI UN­DER FIRE OVER OR­LANDO

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The FBI is fac­ing new scru­tiny af­ter it failed to pre­vent the week­end ter­ror­ist at­tack in Or­lando de­spite con­duct­ing a fairly ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shooter.

FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey this week de­fended the bureau’s han­dling of se­cu­rity guard Omar Ma­teen, who killed 49 peo­ple and wounded 53 oth­ers in an Is­lamic State-in­spired shoot­ing spree, telling re­porters that the agency would con­duct a review of its han­dling of the Ma­teen case.

A Repub­li­can aide said the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is re­view­ing the FBI’s han­dling the Ma­teen in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bob Good­latte, Vir­ginia Repub­li­can, has been briefed on the mat­ter. Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chairman Chuck Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can, is also con­duct­ing a review and wrote to the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and State De­part­ment this week re­quest­ing in­for­ma­tion on the shooter.

Ac­cord­ing to the FBI chief, Ma­teen be­came the tar­get of an FBI ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion for 10 months af­ter a co-worker re­ported in May 2013 that Ma­teen, who was work­ing as a se­cu­rity guard at a lo­cal court­house at the time, had made state­ments “about ter­ror­ism.” Ma­teen, the son of Afghan im­mi­grants, claimed he was a mem­ber of al Qaeda and Iran-backed Hezbol­lah. Ma­teen also stated that he hoped law en­force­ment of­fi­cers would raid his apart­ment and as­sault his wife and child so he could “mar­tyr him­self” in re­sponse, Mr. Comey said.

The probe was dropped af­ter Ma­teen ad­mit­ted mak­ing the state­ments, but claimed he made the re­marks in anger af­ter dis­crim­i­na­tion by co-work­ers for be­ing a Mus­lim.

Two months af­ter drop­ping the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that used con­fi­den­tial in­for­mants and elec­tronic sur­veil­lance, the FBI in July 2014 again probed ter­ror­ist links be­tween Ma­teen and an Amer­i­can sui­cide bomber who at­tacked in Syria. Ma­teen and the Nusra Front bomber went to the same Florida mosque. Mr. Comey said the FBI found “no ties of any con­se­quence” be­tween the two.

Fur­ther, an in­for­mant told the FBI dur­ing the 2014 probe that Ma­teen had men­tioned watch­ing videos by An­war al-Awlaki, the Amer­i­can-born ter­ror­ist and al Qaeda re­cruiter who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

The shoot­ing was the worst ter­ror­ist at­tack since Sept. 11, 2001, and struck at the heart of the FBI’s stated No. 1 pri­or­ity: pro­tect­ing the United States from ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The FBI direc­tor promised to review the han­dling of the case and to “look hard at our own work to see whether there is some­thing we should have done dif­fer­ently. … I don’t see any­thing in re­view­ing our work that our agents should have done dif­fer­ently,” he said.

How­ever, the two in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Ma­teen should have found clues to his plot, crit­ics say.

“The FBI has a doc­u­mented track record of mis­han­dling re­ports of cred­i­ble deroga­tory in­for­ma­tion and fail­ing to rig­or­ously follow re­fer­rals from

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