Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Make a gift to NHPR and have a Valentine's message to a loved one read on air!

Father Of Orlando Gunman Saddened By Nightclub Massacre


We're learning more about the background of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen. His father, Seddique says he is shocked and doesn't understand why his son acted the way he did. But Seddique Mateen has generated some attention himself for, among other things, hosting a talk show about Afghanistan. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Seddique Mateen says he talked to his son Omar one day before he went on a deadly rampage at the Pulse dance club in Orlando. At a news conference, the elder Mateen described it as a brief, normal conversation, and he had no inkling of what his son was about to unleash, as heard on this video provided by WPBF News 25.


SEDDIQUE MATEEN: And I am very sorry, and I'm very upset that he did what he did inside the United States. I cannot tell you why he did do such act. This is against the principle of me and the whole family.

NORTHAM: Earlier today, Mateen released a video on his Facebook page. In that video, Mateen condemns what his son does but then suggests it should be God who punishes gay people. That Facebook posting was later deleted.

The elder Mateen often appears in front of the camera. For several years, he regularly traveled from his Florida home to a studio in Los Angeles to broadcast his own talk show. He bought time on a satellite channel - Payame Afghan - says its owner, Omar Khattab.

OMAR KHATTAB: You know, he would buy, like, three hours let's say Saturday from 1 in the afternoon for three hours. Then he would go back home the day after. And he will come after another two months, and then he would do the same.

NORTHAM: The show was beamed to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Khattab says a year ago, Mateen stopped traveling to California and instead made Facebook videos. He always appears wearing fatigues and standing in front of the national flag of Afghanistan.

BARNETT RUBIN: He claims to be president of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Afghanistan, something which does not exist except as an NGO registered in Florida under his name.

NORTHAM: Barnett Rubin, an Afghan specialist at New York University, says the Facebook speeches by the Afghan-born Mateen are virulently anti-Pakistan.

RUBIN: His main obsession besides his own pretense of power is the Durand line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan which Afghanistan has never officially recognized and which is the object of nationalist claims by Afghanistan and specifically by Pashtuns.

NORTHAM: Pashtuns live on both sides of the border. Rubin says in one video, Mateen congratulates the Taliban for breaking down the Durand line. But he says Mateen would congratulate anyone breaking down what he sees as a false border.

RUBIN: Politically he's not pro-Taliban. If anyone does something against the Durand line, he's for them. Politically he is pro-himself, as he believes he is the president of this mythical government of Afghanistan.

NORTHAM: Rubin says Mateen also often talks about being pro-American in his videos. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.