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Wife of Orlando Nightclub Shooter Makes First Court Appearance

  • VOA News

FILE - FBI officials approach the Pulse nightclub, the site of a mass shooting days earlier, in Orlando, Florida, June 15, 2016. Noor Salman, wife of Omar Mateen who shot dead 49 people and wounded more than 50 others at the club, is to face federal charges of obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting her husband's actions.

Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen, appeared in court Tuesday for the first time since being arrested near San Francisco, California.

A two-count indictment unsealed Tuesday shows Salman is facing federal charges of obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting Mateen's material support for Islamic State.

The indictment papers allege that Salman knowingly misled police and the FBI during conversations after the June 12 nightclub shooting. They also say Salman aided her husband in providing support to the IS group as early as April 2016.

During an initial court appearance in Oakland, California, which is near where she had been living in San Francisco with her son, Salman's lawyer said he would seek to have her released from jail pending trial.

Salman did not enter a plea during the brief hearing and only spoke to say she understood the court proceedings.

Salman had been under intense police scrutiny since her late husband opened fire in an Orlando nightclub popular with gays in June 2016, killing 49 people and wounding more than 50 others in an attack said to have been inspired by Islamic State extremists.

Mateen, 29, was fatally shot by police after a three-hour standoff at the facility.

Prior knowledge?

Orlando police and the FBI have sought to learn whether Salman had prior knowledge of her husband's plot.

Law enforcement authorities have said Salman accompanied her husband on at least one trip to Orlando's Pulse nightclub prior to the attack. She also has admitted accompanying him when he bought ammunition.

However, she told the New York Times last year that she did not know the purpose of the club visit. She also said she had no reason to suspect that ammunition bought by her husband days before the killings was to be used in the massacre. She said he frequently made such purchases, which she linked to his work as a security guard.

Salman further sought to boost her claim of innocence by noting she bought her husband a Father's Day greeting card, which she planned to give him when he returned home on the evening of June 12. Her lawyers argue the card purchase backs her story that she did not know about the attack that occurred that evening.

Salman previously told authorities her husband was physically abusive and said he shrouded his personal activities in secrecy.

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