Evangelist Franklin Graham blasted the Obama administration for editing out references to Islam from the transcript of the Orlando shooter's 911 calls before he killed 49 people and injured 53 others in a gay nightclub. Graham praised House Speaker Paul Ryan for insisting on the full transcript, which reveals the attacker's religious motivation.
"Did they think the American people were idiots? Did Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Obama administration really think they could get by with scrubbing the transcripts of the Orlando shooter's 911 calls to remove references to Islam?" Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote on his Facebook page on Monday.
Graham quoted Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, as saying: "Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous. We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this and why."
The Obama administration "has long gone out of its way to give Islam a pass and deny their murderous intent," Graham added. "President Barack Obama, don't try to rewrite the narrative on the #Orlandoshooting. Islam's Quran spells out very clearly their hatred for gays, Christians, and Jews. That's the truth, read it for yourself."
The Orlando shooting suspect, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, who carried out killings inside the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse on June 12, had been interviewed twice in 2013 and 2014 by the FBI for alleged "terrorist ties" and swore allegiance to the Islamic State minutes before the massacre. He was shot dead by a SWAT team after the shooting.
According to the transcript, Mateen told a 911 dispatcher in Arabic: "Praise be to Allah, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of Allah. I am in Orlando, and I did the shootings. … In the next few days, you're going to see more of this type of action going on."
He identified himself as an "Islamic soldier," according to USA Today, which published excerpts from the transcript.
After drawing criticism for removing religious references from the transcript, Justice Department and FBI officials said in a statement that they relented because the redactions had "caused unnecessary distraction'" from the work of law enforcement authorities. "We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest blamed it on the Justice Department. "The position of the White House is that we shouldn't interfere with a pending law enforcement investigation," he was quoted as saying.
Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, is an offshoot of al-Qaeda and wants to establish a caliphate in the Levant region and beyond. It has gained control over large swathes of territories in Syria and Iraq, and is seeking to expand its territory. Christians and other minorities are its main targets.