The wife of the Pulse nightclub shooter admitted she lied to the FBI about her knowledge of the attack before it occurred and exhibited odd behaviors after the shooting, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Noor Salman was questioned by FBI Special Agent Ricardo Enriquez on June 12, 2016 following her husband’s attack inside the gay club, during which he killed 49 people and pledged his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group.
Salman said that husband Omar Mateen had been visiting extremist websites for about two years, but she did know he was planning an attack, according to Enriquez’s testimony during an evidence hearing Thursday.
Enriquez did not record the interview with audio or video, so he wrote her statement, then asked her to write a paragraph to confirm no one forced her to be there. When she finished, she left the room for a break and he read her statement to two other agents.
Enriquez read over her handwritten statement, then realized Salman had been lying.
“I am sorry for what happened,” she wrote. “I wish I could go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do.”
Click Orlando reports she also wrote, “I’m sorry I lied to the FBI,” in her statement.
“I realized, when I read that, that she knew,” Enriquez told the court.
He re-entered the room and explained to Salman that lying to an FBI agent is a crime. “I told her that’s something she should keep in mind, to be there for her son when he grows up,” Enriquez said.
She admitted to omitting details and recalled a second statement for the agent. In the second interview, Salman said she suspected Mateen was planning to attack a club, but she did not know any details. In a third interview, she admitted she knew her husband planned to target Pulse, Enriquez said.
Salman said she and Mateen drove around the club with the windows down for 20 minutes on one occasion. She also recalled seeing her husband searching the club’s photos online. Mateen told her Pulse was his target, and she realized the attack would happen soon, Enriquez explained.
After Salman’s initial stint of interviews, she was released by police and moved with her son to California. In January, she was arrested on charges of aiding a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.
Salman’s lawyers claim her statements to Enriquez should not be included as evidence because she was not in police custody at the time she made them. She was also not read her Miranda rights, attorneys claim.
Salman’s trial is scheduled to begin March 1 in Orlando’s federal courthouse. If convicted, she faces life in prison.
Photo credit: Getty / Gerardo More / Stringer