The wife of the man who killed dozens of people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016 told FBI investigators she knew beforehand that he was going to do something violent.
“I wish I had done the right thing but my fear held me back. I wish I had been more truthful,” Noor Salman, wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, wrote in a statement to the FBI that was shown to the court on Monday.
That statement, and two others taken in the wake of the Pulse massacre, were shown to the court on Monday as part of Salman’s trial in Florida.
Salman, 31, is charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice for allegedly misleading law enforcement agents in their investigation of the massacre.
She was first arrested in January 2017, months after Mateen killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others when he opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Prosecutors have argued that Salman knew about Mateen’s plan beforehand and did not stop him, and that she misled investigators.
Salman has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In opening statements, defense attorney Linda Moreno cast Salman as a “simple young mother” with a low IQ. Salman was a victim of Mateen’s abuse and infidelity and of the FBI’s coercive investigators, Moreno argued.
“Omar Mateen is a monster. Noor Salman is a mother, not a monster. Her only sin is she married a monster,” Moreno told jurors.
Salman is not expected to testify in the case, family spokeswoman Susan Clary said. If convicted of the terrorism charge, she could face life in prison.
Three statements to FBI
Ricardo Enriquez, an FBI special agent, testified on Monday that he interviewed Salman after the Pulse shooting and that he wrote down three separate statements she made to him. He testified that he wrote down what she dictated, and that she then initialed each paragraph to verify its truthfulness.
In the first statement, Salman said Mateen watched violent jihadi beheading videos, that he purchased a rifle before the shooting, and that he had spent a lot of money on her. She said she was concerned Mateen would commit an act of terrorism.
A week before the attack, Mateen drove Salman around slowly and at one point said to her, “How bad would it be if a nightclub was attacked?” according to the statement.
He also asked her, “What would make people more upset, an attack at Disney or a nightclub?” according to the statement.
Salman also said she wished she could go back and tell everyone she was sorry, according to the statement.
In the second statement to the FBI, Salman said Mateen had been preparing for jihad by going to the gun range to practice and by spending money on ammo.
“I saw this as a ‘green light’ for (Omar Mateen) to do great violence,” she said in the statement. “I knew he was going to do something.”
Salman said she knew it would have something to do with a nightclub, and that she knew he was going to do “something bad” that June day because he left with his handgun, black backpack and ammo, according to the statement.
“I knew later that when I couldn’t get a hold of him, he did what he said he was going to do,” she said in the statement.
“I was in denial because I could not believe that the father of my child would do this,” she added.
In the third statement to the FBI, Salman said she “burned up his phone” trying to contact him and stop him on the day of the mass shooting, but he never answered.
“I’m very sorry I lied to the FBI,” she said in the statement.
Moreno, Salman’s attorney, said in opening statements that FBI investigators had coerced Salman into “adopting their narrative” and that they failed to record her statements.
“The FBI got Noor to adopt their own written statements after 11 hours of interrogation,” she said.