Orlando shooter Mateen’s ex-wife says he might have been gay

The authorities have been looking into reports that he had visited the club several times and also used a gay dating app.

Omar Mateen, who gunned down 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, himself might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame, his former wife has said. The authorities have been looking into reports that he had visited the club several times and also used a gay dating app.

Sitora Yusufiy said she met Mateen online in 2008 and the two got married in 2009.

He “might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame,” she said.

Regular patron of Pulse

A New York Times report cited a senior federal law enforcement official as saying that the FBI was looking at reports that the 29-year-old had used a gay dating app.

Patrons of club Pulse were quoted as saying that he had visited the club several times.

Yusufiy said her ex-husband had told her that he frequented nightclubs before their wedding, but did not say they were gay clubs.

CBS News said in a report that club-goers had told the investigators that Mateen was at Pulse previously.

The Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations also quoted regular customers at the gay bar as saying they had seen Mateen there a number of times.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” said Ty Smith, a patron at the bar. Smith said he saw Mateen inside the club at least a dozen times.

Marriage marred by violence, isolation

Yusufiy, during an interview at her home in Colorado, said Mateen had seemed “perfect — American enough for her free spirit and Muslim enough to please her traditional family.

“This man was a simple, Americanized guy that was also from my culture. And, you know, had the same religion,” she said.

“So I was like, OK , this could potentially satisfy my parents.”

Yusufiy moved to Florida, and they married in a quiet courthouse ceremony in 2009. But the short-lived marriage was marred by violence and isolation, she said.

She had no friends or family in Florida, and Mateen preferred that she stay in the house.

She said he sometimes returned from work angry and agitated, including one night when she fell asleep on the floor waiting for him to return home.

“All I remember is being woken up by a pillow being taken from under my head,” she said. “I hit my head on the ground and then he started pulling my hair. He almost killed me. Because he started choking me. And I somehow got out of it and I tried to tackle him.”

The couple separated within a year, and in 2011 Mateen filed for divorce, the NYT report said.

Terrorism watch list

The report added that Mateen was one of the people the FBI had spoken to after Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a young American from Florida drove a truck packed with explosives into a hilltop restaurant in Syria in May 2014.

Mateen had attended the same mosque as Abusalha and they knew each other “casually.” He was also on a terrorism watch list for incendiary comments he once made to co-workers at a local courthouse.

The NYT said early examination of Mateen’s life “reveals a hatred of gay people and a stew of contradictions. He was a man who could be charming, loved Afghan music and enjoyed dancing, but he was also violently abusive.”

Mateen’s family members have said he was not overly religious, but he was rigid and conservative in his view that his wife should remain mostly at home.

FBI director James Comey said Mateen had once claimed ties to both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah — two radical groups violently opposed to each other.

Mateen had earned an associate degree in criminal justice technology from Indian River State College in 2006, the year he began working for the Florida Department of Corrections at a facility just west of Port St Lucie.

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