Almost as soon as we learned the tragic news of 53 murdered and dozens more injured Sunday morning at a popular Orlando nightclub, connections to Islamic terror began to come out.
As we reported earlier, gunman Omar Mateen reportedly had been previously investigated by the FBI on suspicion of terror ties — and, as if to remove all doubt, made a call to pledge allegiance to ISIS right before the attack. And reinforcing what appears to be the fact that
Now, Fox News is reporting that the Orlando gunman was a follower of a controversial gang leader-turned-bank robber Marcus Dwayne Robertson, who was known for recruiting terrorists and inciting violence. Robertson was also known for openly and vigorously preaching against homosexuality. Gunman Mateen was enrolled in the leader’s online “Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary” course.
Now, here’s the kicker: Mateen’s apparent mentor, Robertson, was released from prison last year — despite warnings from prosecutors that he would recruit people to carry out violent acts.
As Fox News reports:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 12, 2016
The gunman who murdered at least 50 people in a Florida nightclub early Sunday morning was a follower of a controversial gang leader-turned-bank robber who was released from prison last year despite warnings from prosecutors that he would recruit people to carry out violent acts, sources told FoxNews.com.
Omar Mateen, whose bloody siege inside a packed Orlando gay nightclub ended when SWAT teams stormed the building and killed him, was a radical Muslim who followed Marcus Dwayne Robertson, a law enforcement source said.
“It is no coincidence that this happened in Orlando,” said a law enforcement source familiar with Robertson’s history of recruiting terrorists and inciting violence. “Mateen was enrolled in [Robertson’s online] Fundamental Islamic Knowledge Seminary.”
Robertson and several associates were rounded up for questioning early Sunday, according to law enforcement sources, a development his attorney refused to confirm or deny.
Robertson’s school may not have been the only source of Mateen’s spiritual guidance. The gunman was at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce with Imam Shafiq Rahman two days before the nightclub attack, according to The Washington Post. That mosque was frequented by American-born suicide bomber Monar abu Salha, who blew himself up in Syria in 2014, and the two knew each other, according to officials. Mateen’s association with Salha led the FBI to interview him in 2014. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul told Fox News law enforcement determined at the time their contact “was minimal.”
FoxNews.com has reported extensively on Robertson, a former U.S. Marine who served as a bodyguard to the Blind Sheik involved in the 1993 World Trade Center Attack and led a gang of New York bank robbers called “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves” before resurfacing in Orlando, where he started an Islamic seminary.
The school, recently renamed the Timbuktu Seminary, is operated by Robertson, a 47-year-old firebrand known to his thousands of followers as Abu Taubah.
Robertson, who recently spent four years in prison in Florida on illegal weapons and tax fraud charges before being released by a Florida judge one year ago, has openly and enthusiastically preached against homosexuality. The targets of Mateen’s bloody rampage were members of the gay community of Orlando, an hour’s drive from the 29-year-old’s home in Fort Pierce.
Prosecutors said wiretaps from 2011 proved Robertson instructed one of his students, Jonathan Paul Jimenez, to file false tax returns to obtain a tax refund to pay for travel to Mauritania for terror training.
Jimenez studied with Robertson for a year in preparation for his travel to Mauritania, where he would study and further his training in killing, suicide bombing, and identifying and murdering U.S. military personnel. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to lying to authorities and conspiring to defraud the IRS and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
Robertson was arrested on a firearms charge in 2011 and pleaded guilty in January 2012. On March 14, 2012, federal authorities charged him with conspiring to defraud the IRS, which he was convicted of in December 2013.
While in the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Seminole County, Robertson was considered so dangerous, he was kept in shackles and assigned his own guards. Whenever he was transported to court, a seven-car caravan of armed federal marshals escorted him. He was initially moved into solitary confinement after prison authorities believed he was radicalizing up to 36 of his fellow prisoners.
In seeking enhanced terrorism charges during sentencing for the two crimes, prosecutors said Robertson has been involved with terrorism activities, “…focused on training others to commit violent acts as opposed to committing them himself” … “overseas instead of inside the United States.”
Yet efforts by federal prosecutors to tack on another 10 years to his sentence, based on enhanced terrorism charges under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, were not persuasive enough for U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell, who freed Robertson in June 2015 with time served.
Read more about Robertson’s checkered past, including ties to terrorists going back to the ’90s and the shooting of multiple police officers at Fox News. But he sounds nice, doesn’t he?
One has to wonder what led U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell, appointed by President Bill Clinton, to dismiss federal prosecutors’ attempts to extend Robertson’s sentence based on enhanced terrorism charges. Hmmm…
Almost as bad as Obama continuing to release Guantanamo Bay detainees, despite the evidence that they will simply return to their task of spreading jihad once they are out.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]