In the days following his son’s massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Seddique Mateen has given periodic press briefings in which he pointed the finger of blame at the Islamic State for poisoning his son’s mind, at the guards who allowed his son to walk into a Pulse nightclub while armed, and at his son’s disgust upon seeing two men kissing in Miami’s Bayside Marketplace.
In one of the odd sidelights to this week’s tragic events, the elder Mateen has maintained a steady Facebook presence, continuing to post not so much about the killing spree, but about a personal issue that he has touted for years: Pashtun nationalism in his native Afghanistan.
It was not until Thursday, four days after the mass shooting, that Mateen deactivated his account.
On Sunday at 8:11 p.m., as further details of the tragedy were starting to emerge, he posted a photo of a t-shirt emblazoned with his own image and a phrase in Pashto.
Until that point, the elder Mateen continued his posting about long-standing political tensions in his homeland, notwithstanding the vigils, media frenzy and national mourning engulfing Florida and the United States resulting from his son’s actions.
CBS News reported that he had long hosted a California-based satellite television show aimed at ethnic Pashtuns from Afghanistan living in the United States, and that the show had a Pasthun-centric nationalistic bent opposed to both Pakistan and the United States. Sometimes dressed in fatigues, he would refer to himself as the head of a revolutionary government-in-exile that would one day return to take rightful control of Afghanistan.
In the wee hours Sunday morning, about 15 minutes before the first gunshots went off at Pulse, he posted a video featuring himself, dressed in military garb and seeking to inspire a sense of urgency among his 10,925 Facebook followers: “To the revolutionary people in Afghanistan, country is in danger,” he wrote.
On Sunday at 8:11 p.m., as further details of the tragedy were starting to emerge, he posted a photo of a t-shirt emblazoned with his own image and a phrase in Pashto that made reference to his name and Afghanistan.
On Wednesday at 1:30 a.m., perhaps feeling the pressure of the mounting national attention, he posted a photo praising the United States for its involvement in Afghanistan, in contrast to criticisms he leveled in earlier videos.
He had told reporters outside his house on Monday morning, “Taliban are the ones that destroyed Afghanistan” — a dramatic change from earlier videos.
On Wednesday at about 2 a.m., a few hours before he would tell reporters camped outside his Fort Pierce home that his son’s widow, Noor Salman, was no longer in town, he reposted a photo of himself standing alone outside the closed door of a Capitol Hill basement office — the U.S. State Department Liaison Office. The Liaison Office mainly helps members of Congress organize their overseas travels and processes their passport and visa paperwork.
The undated photo was one of a few of Mateen’s apparent favorites. He had regularly recycled other similar images on his page, including one of him standing alone outside the closed door of the Democratic staff office for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and another of him standing at a mock presidential podium that appears to be at White House Gifts, a popular Washington, D.C. gift shop where visitors can pose for photos and pretend to be the president.
As further details of the Pulse massacre spread across the world, some visitors to his page started to take note. Early Monday morning, one posted a comment under his t-shirt photo: “I heard your son committed a terrorist act. I though u were kidding with declaring yourself as president of Afghanistan but your son was a real terrorist. We are tired of terror and terrorists and damn terrorism.”
Miami Herald staff writer Lance Dixon contributed to this report.