Orlando gunman's widow due in court for talks on transfer

A family member says the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter is a victim herself and innocent of charges of helping her husband in the months leading up to the June massacre.

A second count accused her of obstructing justice by lying to FBI investigators and the Police Department in Fort Pierce, Fla. Dressed in a yellow t-shirt and gray sweatpants, she spoke only to acknowledge she understood the proceedings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu ordered both parties to interview Salman immediately following the hearing to determine whether she can be released on bail. Salman said little and looked sadly back at her uncle as she was led back to jail.

Salman was arrested on Monday in California, where she was living with her mother in the San Francisco area, according to her uncle, Al Salman, who denied she played a role in the attack.

Salman's husband, Omar Mateen, died in a shootout with police after killing 49 club patrons. He wounded dozens more in the shooting, which intensified fears about attacks by Americans inspired by Islamic State.

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The indictment charges her with aiding and abetting Mateen in providing material support and resources to Islamic State between April and June of past year. The indictment only provides a clue when it comes to timing, stating that Salman's criminal activity took place at least as early as late April 2016, through the day of the attack in June 2016. Charles Swift, a Texas-based lawyer who directs the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, was in the courtroom but can not actively represent Salman until he receives court permission to practice in California.

It was unclear what she was doing in California and her case is expected to be transferred to Florida.

Her arrest came after she was interviewed numerous times by FBI agents investigating the June 12 attack in Florida. However, Salman disputed that she had any knowledge of the reason for their visits. "I'm not going to talk about details, but I will say that there's definitely information that she aided and abetted and could have prevented this tragedy".

For her part, Salman told the New York Times in an interview published in November a year ago that she knew her husband had watched ISIL videos but that she was "unaware of everything" regarding his intent to shoot up the club.

  • Sidney Guerrero