Noor Salman: Pulse nightclub shooter’s widow not guilty


Noor Salman (L) and Omar Mateen (R)Image copyright

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The couple marreid in 2011 and have a son who is now four years old

The widow of a gunman who killed dozens at a Florida nightclub two years ago has been found not guilty of helping him.

Noor Salman, 31, was charged with obstruction of justice and aiding Omar Mateen in providing support to the Islamic State militant group.

Her lawyers had argued that she was an innocent victim of her husband’s lies.

Mateen killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016 before he was shot dead by police.

Who was the Orlando club gunman?

The 12-member jury returned their verdict on Friday morning on their third day of deliberations.

Ms Salman sobbed as the verdict was read while her relatives hugged, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

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Media captionJim Van Horn, Pulse nightclub customer: “He (Omar Mateen) was a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men”

Defence lawyer Charles Swift had said in his closing argument: “She doesn’t go to the mosque, she searches for Hello Kitty on her website.

“We’re supposed to believe she had long conversations with Omar Mateen about jihads?”

Her attorneys also argued she was a victim of a “tragic marriage” to Mateen, with no prior knowledge of the attack.

Mateen, a US citizen who had been known to the FBI since 2013, entered the venue after midnight and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, holding people hostage in the bathroom before dying in a gun battle with police.

His father, Seddique Mateen, said a possible motive for the attack might have been his son’s outrage at seeing two men kissing in Miami.

During the trial it came to light that Seddique Mateen was a confidential FBI informant and is now under investigation for money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan days after the attack.

“Omar Mateen is a monster,” another defence attorney, Linda Moreno, told the jury.

“Noor Salman is a mother, not a monster. Her only sin is she married a monster.”

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The attack left 49 people dead and 53 others wounded

During the attack, Ms Salman was at home with the couple’s three-year-old son.

After the verdict was announced, Al Salman, her uncle, addressed reporters outside the courthouse.

“Now, we’re looking forward to taking my niece and hiring a therapist for her,” Mr Salman said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I don’t know how she’s going to make up for the last two years,” she spent in prison, he said.

According to the local paper, Susan Adieh, Ms Salman’s cousin, said: “We knew from day one she was innocent, and thank God it came out.”

More than 100 advocacy organisations signed a letter supporting the release of Ms Salman from prison.

“The prosecution of Ms Salman is rooted in gendered Islamophobia and patriarchy,” the letter read.

Orlando nightclub shooting: How the attack unfolded

But prosecutors pointed to a statement Ms Salman made to the FBI after her arrest in January 2017, that she knew her husband was going to do something violent.

They also said Ms Salman “knowingly misled” FBI interrogators in the hours after the attack.

“This case is about what she knew and what she did,” Assistant US Attorney Sara Sweeney said to the court.

“The defendant didn’t pull the trigger that night, but she did serve as a green light for her husband,” she had argued.

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The reaction to Ms Salman’s “not guilty” verdict is mixed

Special Agent Ricardo Enriquez said that Ms Salman had confessed her husband had been watching Islamic State videos and bought a weapon.

Orlando police released a statement after the verdict was announced.

“I believe in our criminal justice system and am grateful for the jury’s hard work,” Chief John Mina said.

But he added: “Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murder of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones.”


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