Wife of Florida nightclub shooter appears in court on federal terrorism charges


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 brief appearance in federal court in Oakland the morning of Jan. 17 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.

A public defender appointed to her Jan. 17 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 Salman during the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg from the Middle District of Florida revealed little Jan. 17 about the still-sealed case against Salman, but said his office is seeking to return her to Florida to face charges there.

Salman has ties to Rodeo in Contra Costa County and was arrested there by the FBI the morning of Jan. 16.

A man who identified himself as her uncle, Al Salman, attended the Jan. 17 hearing and spoke with reporters outside. He said Noor Salman is innocent and had no prior knowledge of what Mateen was planning.

“The guy got what he deserved, the one who did this,” Al Salman said. “And if we know someone else involved, they need to come to justice.”

Mateen’s attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 killed 49 people and injured 53 others in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. While Mateen died in the shootout after the attack, Salman has remained under investigation for what role she might have played.

In a statement Jan. 16, Orlando police Chief John Mina expressed relief about Salman’s arrest “in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”

“I am glad to see that Omar Mateen’s wife has been charged with aiding and abetting her husband in the commission of the brutal attack on the Pulse nightclub,” Mina said.

Salman was scheduled to return to court on Jan. 18.

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