In an unusual press conference Wednesday, the father of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub railed against the terrorist group ISIS, saying he, too, was a victim of the group.
Omar Mateen, 29, pledged allegiance to the group – which is also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh – during the attack at the LGBTQ nightclub early Sunday morning.
Mateen’s father, Seddique, told reporters at the press conference that he had no idea his son had fallen under the sway of radical Islamism.
“I just want to repeat to the whole nation my apologies,” Seddique said. “But I did my job to send him to school … to send him to college, get him a job. He had a steady job for the past seven years.”
He continued: “But unfortunately I wasn’t aware of that he went under, what I learned from the media, under the effect of this horrible, terrible killer group of ISIS. I don’t know who created ISIS, but it’s bad news for humanity.”
Seddique, who emigrated to the US from Afghanistan, implored the US government to destroy ISIS.
“My suggestion to the nation, especially to President Obama, US Congress, NATO, that they shouldn’t allow the terrorism regime or government to breathe,” Seddique said. “Because not only did we lose our loved ones, it affects our daily life, and we are running deeper and deeper in debt fighting terrorism. So the best thing to do … and it’s the job of the Congress, that they should eliminate and should find the solution to get rid of this ISIS idea.”
He also mourned the loss of his son.
“I am a victim of terrorism,” Seddique said. “I lost my son. This is a nightmare for a father or mother to lose a son. And lose another 50 family members. You’re all my family. Another 52 got injured. As a family philosophy, American philosophy, we are one family helping each other. We all get affected.”
The press conference was the latest stop in a media spree from Seddique, who has been seemingly ever-present since the massacre last weekend.
Seddique has his own strange history.
He has said Pakistan’s military-run intelligence agency is the “creator and father of the world’s terrorism.” He is also heavily critical of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and he has his own YouTube channel on which he has expressed support for the Afghan Taliban. He recently declared his candidacy for the Afghan presidency.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.