After nearly seven months, the FBI has made an arrest in the ISIS-inspired terrorist massacre in an Orlando nightclub. Noor Salman, the wife of Omar Mateen, will face extradition from San Francisco to Florida to face obstruction and abetting charges in relation to the massacre, ABC News reports:
The wife of the gunman who carried out a mass shooting an Orlando, Florida, nightclub was arrested by the FBI today in San Francisco, the FBI and her lawyer said.
Gunman Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, faces two federal charges: obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting the attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Why did it take seven months? Almost immediately after the shooting, CNN reported that the Department of Justice would present evidence to a grand jury about Salman and her alleged role in the shooting:
FBI investigators don’t believe Noor Salman was a co-conspirator in the attack that killed 49 people Sunday morning at Pulse, the source said.
But authorities are looking into whether she should face charges for what she may have known of his intentions and possibly failed to report to law enforcement.
The charges mentioned today suggest greater involvement than merely a failure to report what Salman knew. Obstruction would relate to providing investigators with false information, and abetting would indicate a more active involvement either before, during, or after the attack to facilitate the crime. This could also be a strategy to levy the most serious charges on Salman in order to effect a plea deal, but why wait seven months for that tactic? And for that matter, did the grand jury prompt these charges, and if so, why now? She’s been going public with her story for two months, and even then the New York Times’ Adam Goldman reported that the FBI didn’t buy her explanations:
Ms. Salman, whose parents immigrated to the United States from the West Bank in 1985, was immediately a person of interest. F.B.I. agents questioned her for hours, eliciting from her that she had been with her husband when he bought ammunition and scouted the club. Some agents came to believe that she was not being truthful.
But in an interview, the first she has given, Ms. Salman denied any involvement in the attack or any knowledge of what her husband was going to do. She described him as someone who angered easily, beat her often and lived his life in secret.
And she lives in legal limbo, with prosecutors weighing charges that could include lying to the F.B.I. Her lawyers, Linda Moreno and Charles Swift, say their client did nothing wrong. They declined to let Ms. Salman, 30, talk about her discussions with the F.B.I., but Mr. Swift said she had told investigators “everything she knew to the best of her ability.”
Clearly they don’t agree. Earlier, her family claimed she had learning disabilities, and couldn’t have comprehended Mateen’s intentions. Fox News reported on it at the time, and declared that a weak defense:
She’s adept enough to file a court petition to change her son’s name. It seems doubtful that a diminished-capacity claim will stand up with that in mind, or at all unless she’s committable for incapacity. Absent that, the question of diminished capacity is more of a penalty-phase consideration for the jury and the judge, not a Get Out Of Jail Free card.
Salman will get arraigned tomorrow at a federal court in San Francisco. If she fights extradition, we may see more of the case that the FBI and DoJ plan to present in the motions, but we’ll almost certainly see the indictment in short order. Meanwhile, Orlando’s police chief speaks for his community — and many more:
MORE: Orlando Police Chief John Mina: "There is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime." pic.twitter.com/OWQrr2mjGi
— ABC News (@ABC) January 16, 2017