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FBI Says Orlando Shooter Had Ties With American-Born Suicide Bomber

FBI officials say the man who shot 49 people and wounded dozens of others at an Orlando nightclub this weekend had ties to the first American-born suicide bomber. 

In 2014, the FBI investigated the relationship between Fort Pierce resident Omar Mateen and Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, the man the FBI identified as the first American-born suicide bomber. Abu-Salha lived in Vero Beach and had ties to Sebastian and Fort Pierce.

According to officials, in 2014, Abu-Salha drove a truck with bombs that blew up outside a restaurant in the Syrian city of Idlib.

“The FBI conducted an investigation, including an interview with Mateen (in 2014),” Ron Hopper, assistant FBI Special Agent in Chicago, said Sunday.  “We determined that contact (with Abu-Salha) was minimal, and did not constitute a substantive relationship or threat at that time.”

The FBI had knowledge of Mateen in 2013 when he made comments to his co-workers, alleging possible terrorist ties. He had been investigated by the FBI, but they were unable to confirm his comments.

“The FBI thoroughly investigated the matter, including interviews of witnesses, physical surveillance and records checks,” said Hopper. “Mr. Mateen was interviewed twice. Ultimately, we were unable to verify the substance of his comments, and the investigation was closed.”

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