Orlando Gunman's Wife Blows Kiss, Pleads Not Guilty to Obstruction, Aiding Charges - NBC Bay Area
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Orlando Gunman's Wife Blows Kiss, Pleads Not Guilty to Obstruction, Aiding Charges

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    The widow of the Orlando gunman who killed 49 people in June at a gay nightclub entered a not guilty plea in federal court in Oakland on Wednesday, two days after she was arrested at her Rodeo, California home. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017)

    The widow of the Orlando gunman who killed 49 people in June at a gay nightclub entered a not guilty plea in federal court in Oakland on Wednesday, two days after she was arrested at her Rodeo, California home.

    Then, Noor Salman, 30, blew a kiss as she was led away back into custody at Santa Rita Jail.

    Her defense team is hoping for her release at a bail hearing scheduled for Feb. 1. Prosecutors hope she will be extradited to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Central District Court in Florida, where the case is being prosecuted. Her late husband, Omar Mateen, was the mastermind behind the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub, Orlando police said.

    Speaking on Salman's behalf, defense attorney Sam Amin said his client is innocent until presumed otherwise and he looked forward to her day in court. Her uncle, Al Salman, stressed her innocence again, saying it's not fair for her to be locked up when she is innocent, and it's not fair to her 4-year-old son, who is being cared for by his grandmother in Rodeo, California, where her family lives.

    But prosecutors allege that she was involved in the worst mass shooting in US history across the country this summer.

    Charging documents made public Tuesday morning allege Salman had been helping her husband since at least April.

    In court on Tuesday, federal prosecutor Roger Handberg said Salman knew her husband "was going to conduct an attack."

    The first count alleges she "knowingly" aided and abetted her husband by providing him "material support or resources" to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Before he was killed in a shootout, Mateen told a police hostage negotiator that he was a soldier of ISIS and that the United States had to stop its bombing in Syria and Iraq, according to police transcripts.

    Salman was also charged with obstructing justice, specifically against the Fort Pierce police and the FBI. The remaining details of the case have been sealed.

    In the days after the attack, law enforcement sources told NBC News that Salman told investigators she was with him when he bought ammunition but tried to dissuade him from violence. When asked how Salman couldn't have known about the attack, especially since she knew about the ammunition, her uncle got defensive. He didn't answer the question, and told reporters to "look at the file," meaning the police report on her.

    In June, a source close to the family told NBC News that Mateen sent his wife a text message during the rampage, asking her, "Do you see what's happening?" After swapping texts, she allegedly tried to call him.

    But on Tuesday her uncle explained his niece's side of it: On the day of the shooting, Noor Salman's mother-in-law called her to say, "Where is Omar?"

    Noor Salman replied, "He's not here, let me call him," her uncle recalled.

    When she reached him, Mateen asked his wife if she had seen the news.

    Noor Salman replied: No.

    Mateen replied, "I love you baby," the uncle recalled. "And then he hung up."

     


    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez