ORLANDO — The gunman responsible for the worst mass shooting in U.S. history told a police negotiator during a standoff at a nightclub that the United States needed to stop its airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, according to a transcript of the phone conversation released Friday.
Omar Mateen identified himself to a 911 operator as the shooter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando about a half hour after the massacre started and he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
"I want to let you know I'm in Orlando and I did the shooting," he said.
When a police negotiator called him back about a dozen minutes later, Mateen told the negotiator he needed to stop U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. A U.S. led coalition has targeted Islamic State group militants with airstrikes in those two countries.
"They are killing a lot of innocent people," said Mateen, a New York-born son of an Afghan immigrant. "What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there? You get what I'm saying?"
When the police negotiator asked Mateen to tell him "what's going on right now," Mateen mentioned the killing of the IS military leader Abu Wahid, who died in a May airstrike.
"That's what triggered it, okay?" Mateen said. "They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid."
Mateen also likened himself to Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to the transcripts. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded at the marathon's finish line in 2013.
"My homeboy Tamerlan Tsarnaev did his thing on the Boston Marathon," Mateen said. "So, now it's my turn, okay?"
This week, Orlando has made public dozens of 911 calls, as well as the transcripts of three conversations Mateen had with police negotiators, after fighting with media groups seeking their release. The June 12 nightclub attack claimed 49 lives and seriously injured 53 others.