Florida nightclub gunman's wife accused of misleading police

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2017 12:02 PM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - The wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last year was due in court on Tuesday, accused of misleading authorities investigating the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday showed Noor Salman, 30, who was arrested on Monday in California, is charged with obstructing justice and aiding and abetting husband Omar Mateen's attempt to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Salman, who media reports said had been living in the San Francisco area, was to appear in federal court in Oakland, California, on Tuesday.

Mateen was killed in a shootout with police after he took hostages during a three-hour standoff in the Pulse nightclub. He also wounded dozens more in the June 12 attack, which intensified fears about attacks against Americans inspired by Islamic State.

The indictment, initially sealed, was returned last week by a federal grand jury in the U.S. Middle District of Florida, which includes Orlando. It accuses Salman of criminal activity beginning as early as April, several months before the massacre. Court documents said she abetted Mateen in providing support to a designated terrorist organization and engaged in "misleading conduct" toward local and federal authorities regarding the Pulse attack.

Salman told the New York Times in November she did not know Mateen was planning the massacre.

Mateen, 29, pledged allegiance to the leader of Islamic State during the rampage in which he used an assault rifle and pistol that had been legally purchased although he had twice been investigated by the FBI for possible connections with militant Islamist groups.

U.S. authorities say Mateen, who lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, with Salman and their young child, was self-radicalized and acted alone without assistance or orders from abroad.

Salman, a U.S. citizen and the daughter of parents who immigrated from the West Bank in 1985, was repeatedly questioned by law enforcement interrogators after the attack.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)