Orlando nightclub shooter's widow makes court appearance on federal terrorism charges

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:13PM
The wife of a man who killed 49 people in a Florida nightclub and then died in a gunfight with police made a court appearance in Oakland this morning on charges that she aided her husband in the attack.


OAKLAND, Calif. - The wife of a man who killed 49 people in a Florida nightclub and then died in a gunfight with police in June made a court appearance in Oakland Tuesday on charges that she aided her husband in the attack and obstructed the law enforcement investigation.

Noor Salman, 30, has been indicted by a Florida grand jury on charges of aiding and abetting her husband, Omar Mateen, in providing material support and resources to the Islamic State group and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators from the Fort Pierce Police Department and the FBI, according to federal prosecutors. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.

RELATED: Wife of Pulse shooter charged with aiding and abetting

A public defender appointed to her Tuesday said that another attorney -- Charles Swift, the director of the Texas-based Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America -- was on his way to Oakland to potentially represent Salman. Swift has already been representing her during the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg from the Middle District of Florida revealed little on Tuesday about the still-sealed case against Salman, but said his office is seeking to return her to Florida to face charges there.


Her uncle Al Salmanuncle spoke to the media after her court appearance and defended her by saying she is a sweet girl who had "no idea what that crazy guy was doing." He also said he believes her when she says she is innocent and that she had nothing to do with it.

Salman was charged with helping her husband in the months leading up to the June massacre that left 49 people dead, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.

RELATED: Indictment charges unsealed for Noor Salman

The two-count indictment accuses her of knowingly aiding and abetting her husband, in providing material support and resources to the Islamic State group between April and June of last year. It also says she knowingly misled police and the FBI after the June 12, 2016, attack at the Pulse nightclub. The charging document does not give additional details on Salman's actions.

Salman is from the San Francisco Bay Area, and in the aftermath of the Orlando attack that also left her husband dead, she returned here with their son, whose name she has since sought to change. She was repeatedly questioned by FBI investigators over whether she had any knowledge of her husband's plans.

Her attorney Linda Moreno said after her arrest that she "had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night."

RELATED: Noor Salman, wife of Orlando nightclub shooter, arrested in Bay Area

The San Francisco office of the FBI said Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in Rodeo, which is the small Bay Area community where she grew up and where her family lives. She is being held about 30 miles away at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. Previously, jail records stated that she had been arrested in Dublin. The reason for the discrepancy wasn't clear.

A court hearing will be held Wednesday, where the focus will be on a selection of a lawyer and her arraignment.

Click here for more stories and videos on the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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