Orlando imam denies ties to nightclub shooter
By NBP Staff | June 15, 2016, 13:34 EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. – Marcus Dwayne Robertson, the Islamic imam who preaches intolerance toward homosexuals, denied that the Orlando nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, was a student of his online Muslim academy, during a Tuesday night interview broadcast by Fox News.
“Our heart goes out to the victims and we didn’t ever train this guy. Never met him. He is not a student of ours,” Robertson, who goes by Abu Taubah at his Timbuktu seminary in Orlando, Florida, told Fox interviewer Greta van Susteren. He told her that media reports of a connection had drawn death threats.
“We don’t have anything to do with this,” Robertson said. A Facebook post attributed to Abu Taubah denies any connection with Mateen and says he was never brought in for questioning.
But shortly after the early Sunday massacre committed by Mateen at a club popular with gays, Fox reported that investigators had brought in Robertson and a number of his associates for questioning, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.
In 2011, Robertson was captured on a law enforcement wiretap counseling a student, Jonathan Paul Jimenez, to obtain a tax refund by filing a false return and use the money to get terrorism training in Mauritania, Fox reported. Jimenez is now in federal prison on tax fraud and other charges, the network said.
Robertson’s lawyer, Corey Cohen, told the network that his client “never taught or condoned violence.”
A New York-born former Marine trained in special operations and counter-terrorism, Robertson once served as a bodyguard for Omar Adbel Rahman. The Egyptian, known as the Blind Sheik, is in prison following his conviction on inciting terrorist acts, including plots to bomb New York’s World Trade Center in 1993, the United Nations and the George Washington Bridge. He moved to the United States in 1990 and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has said.
Robertson served several years in prison on firearms and tax fraud charges, and authorities had him placed in solitary confinement out of concern he was trying to radicalize fellow inmates, Fox reported. The network said Robertson came to the attention of federal authorities in 1991 as the leader of a bank-robbery gang that hit more than 10 banks and other targets, shooting three police officers in the process.
Federal investigators have said Mateen, an American born in New York of Afghan immigrant parents, was radicalized partly through material he obtained on the Internet. Robertson’s preaching has been made available online through YouTube videos.
In some, Robertson refers to homosexuals as “devil worshippers,” according to Heavy.com, an online news site.
President Barack Obama described the attack that killed at least 49 people and left 53 wounded in the Pulse nightclub as an act of hate as well as an act of terror.