Amid mounting pressure, the Justice Department reversed itself and released the full transcript of the 9-1-1 call made by Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen on the night he killed 49 people and injured another 53.
A previous version scrubbed references to Mateen’s declared motivation for the attack, including his allegiance to ISIS.
Previously, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told NBC News the administration removed the references to dampen the attack’s use as a propaganda tool.
“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda,” Lynch told NBC on Sunday. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to ISIS].”
The old version read: “I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].”
The new transcript has Mateen saying: “I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.”
The reversal came amid strong criticism from Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who called the redaction “preposterous” and unhelpful.
“We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS,” he said. “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.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the Obama administration was turning a blind eye to the realities of counterterror warfare.
“This seems like it is another example of not focusing on the evil here,” Scott said. “This is evil. It’s ISIS. It’s radical Islam. … We all would like answers. [Lynch] should release everything that doesn’t impact the investigation.”
Before the reversal, FBI agent Ronald Hopper told reporters at a Monday press conference that releasing the full, unedited version of the transcript might “inflame” others to commit their own acts of terror, the Hill reported.
“We’re not going to propagate violent rhetoric that comes from other people, whether it comes from here or overseas,” Hopper said. “We’re not going to continue to put their names out front.”
Critics of the scrubbing say the feds are bending over backwards to show radical Islam – a term President Obama is reluctant to use – is not as big a threat as many assert.
“This is not just a simple wording issue,” said Ric Grenell, a former aide to U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, on “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “The fact that Loretta Lynch is somehow redacting the specific enemy that is being called out here is a PR move.”
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor, also said on the same show that it’s not helpful in the investigative process to hide or conceal root causes.
“Why didn’t they do this with the Mafia, to spare Italian-Americans? Why? Because if you did,” Giuliani said, “you would never make the connection [that ultimately] brought them down.”
Mateen was shot and killed by police after he murdered 49 and injured 53 at Pulse, the “gay” hot spot in Orlando. But in the lead-up to his own death, Mateen made a 9-1-1 emergency call in which he declared his support for ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Lynch told “Face the Nation” that investigators are trying to determine why exactly Mateen targeted the “gay” community.
Released portions of the transcript of Mateen’s emergency telephone call during the shootings show the Justice Department went so far to scrub the Islamic references as to switch out the word “Allah,” the Muslim name for that faith’s god, for “God.”
As Town Hall reported, Mateen spoke Arabic during the call and offered a prayer of “praise be Allah,” calling for “prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of Allah.” But in the edited version of the transcript released by the Justice Department, the prayer reads: “Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [In Arabic].”
The FBI announced Monday it was not releasing any audio of the call, a decision criticized by Town Hall’s Katie Pavlich.
“Could it be because Americans will hear Omar Mateen speaking Arabic and saying the words we hear so often, ‘Allahu akbar,’ debunking the narrative again that the attack on Pulse night club had little to do with jihad?”