By Saagar Enjeti
Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen allegedly jumped for joy when the second plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, according to Mateen’s former high school classmates.
Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, gunned down 50 people inside of a popular gay Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning.
Robert Zirkle, Mateen’s classmate who rode the bus to school with him daily, told the Washington Post Mateen “was making plane noises on the bus, acting like he was running into a building.” Zirkle added that prior to 9/11 he and Mateen were friendly but “After 9/11 happened, he started changing and acting different.”
Mateen was sent to the deans office for “saying some really rude stuff,” including “Thats what America deserves,” according to another former classmate. The former classmates remember Mateen being escorted out of Florida school when other children took offense to his comments.
In a separate instance after 9/11, Mateen falsely proclaimed that Osama Bin Laden was his uncle. Two classmates told the Washington Post that Mateen’s behavior after 9/11 was significantly altered and bizarre. They speculated Mateen was either suspended or expelled from school for his constant fights and strange behavior.
Mateens behavior and statements after 9/11 may be key to understanding how he began sympathizing with radical Islamic terrorism and the Islamic State.
FBI Director James Comey told reporters Monday that Mateen had previously sympathized with Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah. Comey also said there were “strong indications of radicalization,” with “potential inspiration by foreign terrorist organizations.”
Comey further confirmed reports Mateen attended the same mosque as the first American-born suicide bomber in Syria and was under investigation for nearly 10 months before the investigation was closed. Mateen’s father claimed in the late hours after the attack, the massacre “had nothing to do with religion.”
Mateen called 911 three times during the course of the attack, according to the FBI, to declare his allegiance to ISIS and praise the Tsarnaev brothers, who were responsible for the 2013 Boston marathon bombings.