An Islamic center in New York has determined that in 2012, Omar Mateen traveled to Saudi Arabia during a trip which was organized by the Islamic Center at New York University. There was approximately 80 people who went on the trip with Mateen for an annual pilgrimage.
New York University spokesman John Beckman told the Wall Street Journal in a statement that people from Columbia and Yale universities also attended the trip with some members of the NYPD.
NYU claims that they learned about Mateen through the Wall Street Journal, and will work with authorities and will help assist with the investigation.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin wants to learn more about Omar Mateen’s job. Johnson also wants to know more about the security company that employed Mateen. He is also interested in what responsibilities Mateen had with the company that he worked for, according to TUCSON News.
Imam Khalid Latif, executive director of the NYU Islamic center and an NYPD chaplain, led the pilgrimage to Mecca to perform an umrah in Mecca. An umrah is considered the lesser pilgrimage compared the Hajj. Latif was appointed the first Muslim chaplain at NYU in 2005, and was selected as one of 60 NYC leaders to serve on Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Transition Team.
Omar Mateen’s trip was booked through with Dar El Salam Travel agency in New York, who helped arranged the trip to Saudi Arabia. Dar El Salam Travel has offices on Madison Avenue and has been in business for 30 years and is owned by Moustafa Ahmed.
A spokesperson for the Saudi Arabia’s Interior told NBC News that, “Omar Mateen made the trips to the Middle East in March of 2011 and March of 2012, spending 10 days in the country.”
Saudi Arabia is looking into whether Mateen was involved in any terrorist training or otherwise connected with jihadist groups prior to committing America’s worst mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, FL, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Based on his blatant extremism and ties to a convicted Orlando imam known for facilitating international jihadists traveling, the strong likelihood is that these trips were not benign,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for Clarion Project, a New York-based research institute that tracks global terrorism, according to FOX News.
Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton accused Saudi Arabia of funding terrorism during a speech made in Ohio this week.
“Stop funding terrorism.” said Clinton. She continued on to say, “It is long past time for the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations.”
In the beginning of 2016, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people accused of terrorism, including al-Qaeda leader Faris al-Zahrani and religious leader Nimr al-Nimr, via Al Jazeera News.
It is unclear at this time how many people in Saudi Arabia are being held on terrorism charges.
[Photo by David Goldman/AP Images]