Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, is accusing the Obama administration of "covering up" the possibility of alleged Fort Lauderdale gunman Esteban Santiago being radicalized by ISIS and showing up on the FBI's radar well before the Jan. 6 attack that killed at least five people.
Authorities say 26-year-old Santiago boarded a flight Jan. 6 from Anchorage, Alaska, to Minneapolis, where he changed planes and then flew to Fort Lauderdale. Police say that Santiago checked a firearm before getting on his plane and then retrieved it at baggage claim in Florida. According to eyewitness accounts, he then entered a bathroom and re-emerged opening fire, killing at least five and injuring eight more.
Days after the massacre, questions arose over whether Santiago had been influenced by radical Islamic terrorists. According to one law enforcement official who spoke with ABC News, Santiago may have also used the name Aashiq Hammad.
An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked to confirm ABC's reporting, but another law enforcement official said last week that while in Alaska, Santiago visited an FBI field office, where he reportedly told officers that he was being forced to watch ISIS videos.
According to the Miami Herald, Santiago's gun was seized by local Alaska law enforcement officers while he underwent treatment at a psychiatric facility. About a month later, officers returned Santiago's firearm. It was just 29 days after Santiago retrieved the weapon that he boarded the plane to Florida.
These reports seem to suggest Santiago was radicalized but that the FBI failed to recognize the warning signs, according to the Texas congressman.
"They knew who this guy was. They knew he had converted to Islam and should have understood he was on the way of being radicalized and that this was not necessarily a mental situation as it was a guy who had been radicalized," Gohmert said Friday during an interview with TheBlaze.
Gohmert, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees issues related to terror and homeland security, further accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people about the shooting, even calling it "another coverup" like the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"It was like coming out and telling us Benghazi was all about a video," Gohmert alleged. "They knew he had been radicalized, and yet another coverup so the American people might not recognize that radical Islam is alive and well in the U.S. and is going to continue to kill Americans."
"[Santiago] should never have been allowed to ship a gun ... when they knew he had converted to Islam," Gohmert added.
The Texas Republican pointed to political correctness as one possible reason for the FBI reportedly failing to identify warning signs. He specifically called out the FBI for not allowing agents to ask the right questions when trying to recognize a potential threat.
"There are many factors that help discern if someone has been radicalized before they kill people, and this administration will not allow those things to be taught to our FBI, State Department, Defense Department and intelligence agencies," Gohmert told TheBlaze in June, shortly after the Orlando nightclub shooting that resulted in the deaths of 49 people.
Gohmert was referring to the fact that nowhere in the FBI's lexicon are “jihad,” “Muslim,” “Islam,” “caliphate,” “Muslim Brotherhood,” “al Qaeda” and “Shariah." Those words were "purged" from the document as a result of policies enacted by the Obama administration in 2011-12, an action Gohmert has called "absolutely insane."
“Generally speaking, I think it is absolutely insane. It is absolutely insane that you would not allow FBI agents to be trained about verses in the Quran, which help radicalize the Muslims," Gohmert said in June.