The FBI released excerpts Monday of conversations between the Orlando shooter and police negotiators.
Audio of the shooter’s 911 calls were not released “out of respect for the victims of this horrific tragedy,” the FBI said in a statement.
Various media outlets have reported that the gunman, Omar Mateen, made multiple 911 calls from within the Pulse nightclub during the rampage on June 12 that left 49 people dead and 53 injured. Mateen was later killed in gunfire when SWAT team members stormed the club after a three-hour standoff.
FBI Director James Comey previously said Mateen had three phone conversations with Orlando police during the attack.
According to the transcripts, Mateen told police, “I’m in Orlando, and I did the shootings.”
The FBI statement said Mateen identified himself as an “Islamic soldier” and told police negotiators “to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was ‘out here right now.'”
References to the Islamic State militant group made by the gunman were redacted in the transcripts. Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to the group during the conversations.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that this was done because officials did not want to “further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda.”
Another reason for removing references to the Islamic State was “to avoid revictimizing those who went through this horror,” Lynch told CNN on Sunday.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan criticized the Obama administration’s decision to censor references to ISIS in the call transcripts.
“Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. 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.”
The Washington Post reported that Lynch said the transcripts aimed to show when Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the explanation he gave for the attack and his broader remarks on U.S. foreign policy.