The case of Esteban Santiago, the 26-year-old shooter in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport massacre, gets stranger by the minute.
He flew from Alaska without checking any bags, other than the hard gun case he collected in baggage claim and opened to kill five people while wounding six others.
He was already being prosecuted for attacking his girlfriend and attempting to strangle her. He even broke the terms of his release on that charge by entering her home again. But he was allowed to keep his gun.
The FBI interviewed him in November after his employer in Alaska expressed concerns about things he was saying. He reportedly told the FBI he was being forced by the CIA to fight for ISIS. While being evaluated, the FBI took his gun. But they released him and gave it back after a psychiatric investigation that called for no followup and no medication.
He served in Iraq for the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard but was discharged for “unsatisfactory performance.”
He registered on MySpace under the name “Aashiq Hammad” and recorded Islamic religious music on the site three years before he ever deployed to Iraq. In 2007 he was posting on an explosives and weapons forum about mass-downloading Islamic terrorist propaganda videos. He also downloaded three songs – one of them titled “La ilaha illAllah,” which is Arabic for “There is no God but Allah” – the first half of the Muslim declaration of faith, the Shahadah. He lived within walking distance of Alaska’s only mosque.
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Investigators say he was planning the attack for some time – selling his possessions, including his car, and posting comments that, authorities say, indicate an extended period of preparation.