Why the Orlando shooter was removed from a terrorist watch list

terrorist watch list

By the time the Orlando shooter opened fire in an LGBT nightclub early Sunday morning, killing at least 50 people and injuring 53 more, he was no longer on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.

Not that it would have mattered—placement on “the list” does not preclude a person from legally purchasing a gun. But how did he wind up on the list? Why was he taken off? And what is the terrorist watch list, anyway?

On and off the list

The FBI placed Omar Mateen on its terrorist watch list in 2013, when agents first questioned him about his possible ties to radical groups. The impetus for their questioning, according to an anonymous source who spoke to the Guardian: Mateen told his private security firm co-workers that he knew the Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. After questioning, investigators determined Mateen faked the connection, had broken no laws, and didn’t pose a national security threat.