CIA Chief John Brennan-“No evidence of Omar Mateen’s connection with ISIS”

WASHINGTON: “Our agency did not find any evidence of connection between Omar Mateen and the militant Islamic State (IS) group”, CIA chief John Brennan told the Senate intelligence committee.

49 people were killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday, the killer Mateen stated allegiance to the militant group minutes before the attack.

Mr Brennan told the lawmakers that four days of investigation by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies concluded that Mateen was a “lone wolf.”

The FBI also has determined that Mateen was not directed by or in contact with IS before the Orlando attack. In Facebook posts from inside the club and a 911 call during the attack, Mateen reportedly declared his allegiance to the group. But investigators are now focusing more on his apparently complicated relationship with his sexuality.

The CIA chief, however, said that recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, were “directed” by IS leadership in Syria and Iraq.

Mr Brennan acknowledged that the group’s “terrorist capacity or global reach” remained undiminished by US-led advances on IS-held cities like Manbij and Fallujah. He warned that IS could accelerate terrorist attacks worldwide, a reversion to its pre-2014 status quo.

Mr Brennan warned IS could rely on as many as 38,000 adherents, mostly combatants, across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sinai, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Also on Thursday, the US House of Representatives voted down an amendment that would bar the security services from accessing communications of US citizens without warrants and compelling communications firms to weaken encryption. The amendment was defeated by a 222-198 vote.