Before 29-year-old Omar Mateen executed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, he terrorized his wife during their brief marriage. Sitora Yusufiy, 27, spoke out to several media outlets on Sunday after Mateen carried out a gun massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 50 dead and another 53 wounded. She painted a portrait of a mercurial but seemingly normal twenty-something man who was prone to fits of rage and descended into downright abusiveness. Yusufiy met Mateen on MySpace, she said. They had a brief courtship before marrying in 2008.
“He was a normal guy, joking, laughing, you know, like having fun,” she said of her early impressions of him. But Mateen quickly showed a dark side, Yusufiy told ABC News. He would be perfectly normal and happy, joking, laughing one minute — the next minute his temper … his body would just [go] totally the opposite.” In a previous interview, Yusufiy said the marriage was somewhat of an arranged union, consistent with her Muslim culture.
Yusufiy, who now lives in Colorado, said her family had to rescue her just four months into the marriage, so desperate to remove her from the situation relatives had to physically pry her from Mateen’s grip one night when the abusive relationship culminated in a confrontation. The two weren’t officially divorced until 2011, and Yusufiy said she’s had no contact with with Mateen since then. “I can honestly say this is a sick person. This was a sick person that was really confused and went crazy,” Yusufiy said. She said she was “devastated” when she learned the news of the shooting, and began shaking and crying. “I was so deeply hurt and heartbroken for the people that lost their loved ones.”
During her brief time with Mateen, Yusufiy said Mateen didn’t exhibit extremist Islamic views — but he was highly intolerant of homosexuals. She’s now in a new relationship and is engaged to be married. Yusufiy told a local news station in Denver that the only good that has come from this tragedy is that her ex-husband can no longer harm anyone.
Mateen’s intolerant views on homosexuality, mentioned by Yusufiy, may have been a learned trait. Seddique Mateen, the gunman’s father, has spoken out both in the news media and in a video posted to his Facebook page. The elder Mateen has expressed shock, disbelief and sadness that his son carried out such a horrific massacre, saying he “would have arrested him myself” had he known of the plans, according to CBS News. But on his Facebook page, the father hinted at a partial motive behind the attack, and gave clues about shared outlook with his son on homosexuality. “Only God can punish homosexuality,” he said in the video, referring to the attack, which occurred a popular gay nightclub called Pulse. “This is not an issue for humans to punish,” he added. In an earlier statement, he recalled to NBC News a recent incident in which his son became angry after seeing two gay men kiss in public. In an interview with ABC News, the father denied that radical Islam played a role in the attack. “He was just a regular person, going to work, coming back and taking care of his wife and his kid,” Mateen said.
Indeed, at some point following his divorce from Yusufiy, Mateen was married again, reportedly to a woman named Noor Zahi Salman. The couple has a 3-year-old child together. According to The Washington Post, Salman also left Mateen, but declined to discuss her relationship with him in any greater detail.
Read the full story at ABC News.