KABUL: The father of the gunman behind the Florida massacre has voiced sadness that his son took it upon himself to attack the gay community, saying it was “up to God to punish homosexuals”.

In a video posted on Facebook on Monday, Sed­­­­dique Mateen said he was grieved by the rampage in Orlando, calling the killer Omar Mateen a “good and edu­­­­c­­­ated son”. “I am deeply saddened and have announced this to the people of America,” Mr Seddique said in the three-minute video in the Dari language, voicing disbelief that his son carried out the killings during Ramazan. “It is up to God to punish homosexuals. It is not up to servants,” the US resident added, sitting before a flag of Afghanistan.

The father is a minor celebrity in Afghan political circles in the United States, hosting an occasional television show in which he expresses hard-line views — dressed sometimes in a pinstripe suit and other times in military fatigues.

In the Durand Jirga Show available on YouTube, he rails against the Pakistan government and announces a quixotic bid to seek the Afghan presidency.

Sitting like a statesman with an Afghan flag in the background, he lauds the Taliban as his “warrior brothers” in one of the videos.

“The Taliban are 100% Afghan,” said a large yellow signboard he held up in a picture he posted on social media.

But his sympathy for the militant group appears confused at best, as he pillories Taliban leaders in various Facebook posts for alleged links with Pakistan’s military establishment.

Officials in Afghanistan sought to distance themselves from the family, saying they did not know when exactly Mr Seddique had left the conflict-torn country.

“All we can say is that he [Mateen] is a US citizen of Afghan origin. He had been living in the US for decades, and that is all we know from the media,” an Afghan foreign ministry official said.

A senior Taliban source dismissed any association with the family, pointing out that Mateen was born, lived and worked in the US. “I don’t even consider him as a jihadi.”

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2016

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