Seddique Mateen said his 29-year-old son was not a terrorist but called the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub an act of terror.
He spoke with Global News at his home in Port St. Lucie, about 200 kilometres south of Orlando, Wednesday morning, as investigators continued to piece together clues about what led his son to carry out what has been called the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.
Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State in a 911 call prior to carrying out the attack, but U.S. officials haven’t found any indication he was connected to the terror group or that he was acting on its behalf.
According to Al Jazeera, Omar Mateen had also shown support for the Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as well as a suicide bomber for the al Qaeda Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
Federal authorities had previously investigated and questioned Omar Mateen — three times in the three years leading up to Sunday’s mass shooting — amid concerns he had become radicalized, but the FBI eventually ceased investigating him.
His father said if there had been no such group as ISIS, his son would probably still be alive and so would the 49 people he killed.
“If ISIS was influencing his life, we blame the terrorist group,” Seddique Mateen said. “Every one of those people who passed away they are a victim of terrorism.”
“ISIS is a horrible group. They are a humanity killer,” he said. “Those youngsters there (ISIS recruits), they should concentrate more on education, more on serving the community than the ideology of terrorist group, where their purpose and their motive is profiteering… and killing a lot of innocent people.”
He said he had no idea his U.S.-born son became radicalized but said if he “had control” of Omar the attack “would not have happened in a million years.”
“If I had seen right away, right on the spot I would have done something myself,” he told Global News. “If I did see something was wrong, I would have called the police department or the FBI to report him.”
He refused to comment on reports his daughter-in-law, Noor Zahi Salman knew about the plans for the attack, but did not alert authorities. She could face charges.
Omar Mateen’s father doesn’t believe his son was gay
Questions have been raised about Omar Mateen’s motives for attacking the popular LGBTQ nightclub amid claims he frequented the bar and had profiles on gay dating apps.
Seddique Mateen said he only learned about those claims through news reports, but doesn’t believe his son was gay.
“Who knew why he was there?” he said. “Maybe [he went] there to scout the place, to get familiarized.”
Seddique Mateen, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, is a self-styled politician and political commentator who regularly speaks out against the Afghan government and Pakistan.
He questioned how the U.S. government is combating terrorism, saying too much money is spent on airport security when more could be spent on “destroying the training centres” in countries that are hotbeds for terror groups.
The father, in previous interviews, also blamed Pulse nightclub’s insufficient security and slow police response as other reason his son was able to gun down 49 people, and injure more than 50 others, with an assault rifle.
WATCH: More coverage of the Orlando shooting