The FBI is retracing Omar Mateen’s activities leading up to the terror attack he launched in Orlando over the weekend. The FBI is also focusing in on his wife, Noor Salman, who is believed to have known about her husband’s terror plot well before he entered into a gay bar to murder 49 people and wound approximately 50 others.
If she did indeed participate in helping Mateen, Salman could be looking at multiple charges including aiding and abetting and being a co-conspirator. And if charges are brought, the indictment could remain sealed for a period while the grand jury’s investigation expands to other possible co-conspirators.
According to officials, if Salman drove her husband around to scout targets, or if she accompanied him to purchase firearms, knowing of Mateen’s goal of murdering people, then under federal law she is just as guilty as he is of the crimes and could face the death penalty.
Salman has not spoken to reporters and remains in an unknown location. Reportedly, she is cooperating with federal investigators.
They also are interviewing her family members, including her mother and sisters, who still live in Salman’s childhood home in Rodeo, Calif., in addition to neighbors and other associates. The Associated Press reported that three FBI agents visited Salman’s family home Tuesday and spoke with her mother.
Salman, whose family is originally from the Palestinian Territories, was married twice, the first time in a marriage arranged by her parents in their homeland. She wed Mateen on Sept. 29, 2011, after meeting him online. They have a 3-year-old son.
Legal analysts say if charges are brought against Salman, her defense team could try to claim she was controlled and abused by Mateen or invoke spousal privilege – even though her husband is dead. But those arguments would be tough to make if her level of involvement proves substantial, and an indictment on charges that could potentially carry the death penalty my make her more willing to keep cooperating, legal experts said.
To see more stories like this, sign up below for Dennis Michael Lynch’s email newsletter.
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.