A man who says he was Omar Mateen's lover has claimed the mass murderer acted out of "revenge" after finding out one of his partners was HIV positive.
Mateen, 29, shot dead 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12 in America's worst mass shooting. In an interview with Spanish-language television network Univision the man, who was identified only as Miguel, claimed he and Mateen were "friends with benefits".
He said their relationship started after they met on a gay dating website and lasted two months until December, during which time they met between 15 and 20 times at a hotel in Orlando.
Although Mateen pledged allegiance to Isil at the time of the attack, Miguel claimed that was not his motivation for the attack. He said: "I've cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn't do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge."
He claimed Mateen had engaged in sex with two Puerto Rican men, one of whom he later discovered was HIV positive, and that he became "terrified". The man suggested that Mateen had also experienced rejection at the hands of gay Latinos: "He hated gay Puerto Ricans for all the stuff they did to him. I believe this crazy horrible thing he did was for revenge. When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was, 'I'm going to make them pay for what they did to me'."
The man wore a disguise and his voice was altered for the high-profile interview with Univision, which is the largest Spanish-language television network in the world.
It was not possible to independently verify the man's claims. Univision said it had confirmed with the FBI that they were speaking to "Miguel". The man told Univision: "He (Mateen) adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin, but he felt rejected. He felt used by them. There were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him."
He said Mateen was "sweet and affectionate" and had told him he was forced into an arranged marriage.
The man added: "He said the Muslim religion is a beautiful, beautiful religion, where everything is about love. Everybody is welcome. Gay, trains, bisexual... everybody. He was looking for love. He was looking to be embraced."
Several witnesses claim to have seen Mateen in the Pulse nightclub on previous occasions before the shooting.
Members of the US House of Representatives staged a sit-in at the US Capitol yesterday (Wednesday) to protest the lack of action on gun control in the wake of the shooting. The protest was led by Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights activist who led non-violent protests against segregation in the Sixties, including sit-ins at segregated restaurants.