By Del Quentin Wilber
The veteran FBI agent and a local sheriff’s deputy took no chances when they got a credible tip about a potential terrorist.
In a joint operation, they ran his name through a maze of federal criminal and terrorism databases and scrutinized his telephone records for suspicious contacts.
Without a warrant, they couldn’t read his emails or listen to his calls. But they watched him from unmarked vehicles to track his daily routine and to see whom he met.
They deployed two confidential informants more than a dozen times to secretly record his conversations. They interviewed him twice and convinced him to provide a written statement — in which he admitted he previously had lied to agents.
In the end, after a counter-terrorism investigation that stretched from May 2013 to March 2014, the agent and his supervisor concluded that Omar Mateen was not a threat and closed the case.
Just over two years later, on June 12, the 29-year-old security guard strode into a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and massacred 49 people and wounded dozens more in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. He pledged allegiance to Islamic State before he was killed by police.