ORLANDO, Florida. – As jurors in a federal investigation in Florida believe that the prosecutor, the wife of the man who was one of the V. S. the largest mass executions gave a “green light” to her husband when he wanted to run his terrorist-inspired attack.
But if they accept Noor Salman, the prosecutor account that she is a “devoted mother” with an IQ of 84 and was the victim of Omar Mateen repeated lies during their marriage, they could decide that they had no prior knowledge of the attack.
Salman went on trial Wednesday in Orlando. The 31-year-old is accused of aiding and abetting her husband in his attack at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016. She is also accused of obstruction of justice. If convicted, she faces life in prison.
Prosecutors portrayed a woman who knew Mateen was the buying of rounds of ammunition for his AR-15, helped him spend thousands of dollars for the attack and knew about his plan when he left the house in the hours before the shooting. They also say that they lied, tried to deceive FBI agents, and had knowledge of her husband’s sick fascination with the violent jihad-videos and terrorism.
“None of the victims that night knew of the horrific events that unfold. No one knew, except for two people: Omar Mateen and his wife,” Assistant district Attorney of the V. S. James Mandolfo said. “The defendant gave Omar Mateen the green light to commit terrorism on behalf of ISIS.”
In his hourlong opening statement, Mandolfo gave several examples of Salman’s conflicting statements to FBI agents in the hours after the attack. In a conversation with the authorities, before they were aware of all the details of the attack, she said, “My man is safe with guns.”
Said Mandolfo: “no one has ever told her about guns.”
He described a woman who knowingly went on at least two locations with Mateen “scout” sites of potential terrorist attacks. One was in the City Place, an open-air shopping center in West Palm Beach. The other was Disney Springs, a crowded dining and shopping area in the vicinity of the famous theme parks, Mandolfo said.
“What would make people more angry, an attack on a club, or an attack on Disney?” Mateen asked his wife, according to Mandolfo.
Salman also knew her husband was fascinated with the violent jihad-videos, even pulling their 3-year-old away from the screen, Mandolfo said.
The statements that she made to the FBI after the attack is the key to the process.
Salman’s lawyer, Linda Moreno, argued in opening statements that some of the claims that are contradicted by cell phone records and other evidence.
“She has worked with the FBI at all,” said Moreno, adding that her client never asked for a lawyer and consented to a home search. The FBI in their hourslong questions manipulated and forced her, Moreno.
“Noor Salman denied any knowledge of Omar Mateen, the plans for an hour,” she said, adding that the agents told Salman that she could go to jail and not seeing her child.
Her lawyer said Mateen had a secret life that involved meeting women online and cheating on Salman. Moreno called Mateen “misogynistic.” According to court records, Mateen abused Salman, including when she was pregnant.
“The only sin was that she married a monster,” said Moreno, adding that the jury may honor of the victims of the attack in search of the truth of her client’s actions.
U. S. District Judge Paul G. Byron said the trial could last three weeks or more, after taking a few days to pick a jury of 12 with six alternates. Potential jurors were asked whether they could be impartial in the wake of the Park, Florida, school shooting, and whether they believe that the war on terror targets Muslims. They were also questioned about whether they knew that survivors or victims of a terrorist attack.
Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed by police in the hours after the shooting. At the time of the attack, it was the worst mass shooting in modern AMERICAN history. It was surpassed in October last year by the fatal shooting death of 58 people in Las Vegas.
Salman was arrested in 2017 in California, where they stayed with a family, and ended up in jail.
The first witness the prosecutor called Wednesday was Orlando police officer Adam Gruler, who was employed in the Pulse is in an off-duty capacity as a security for the nightclub.
Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter http://twitter.com/tamaralush