Lawyers for the widow of the man who staged a deadly terrorist attack at a Florida nightclub said she had no advance knowledge of the plot and did not know ahead of time that her husband planned to buy ammunition while they were on a trip to Walmart.
Noor Salman's attorneys said Tuesday in court filings arguing for her release from jail that she had no involvement or knowledge of her husband Omar Mateen's plan to attack the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on June 12. Mateen shot to death 49 people and wounded 53 others before police killed him. Mateen pledged support to the Islamic State extremist group and other terrorist organizations.
Salman was arrested in January and will appear in an Oakland, California, federal court Wednesday seeking her release from jail pending her trial on charges of supporting her husband and lying to investigators.
Attorney Haitham Amin said prosecutors have yet to turn over to Salman's legal team much of the evidence they have collected to make their case. Amin and court papers filed Tuesday by Salman's lead attorney Charles Swift say it appears Salman is charged with being present when her husband was making plans to attack the nightclub.
In particular, Swift cites media accounts reporting that Salman accompanied Mateen on a "scouting trip" in a car to the nightclub in the days before the attack and that she was with her husband when he purchased ammunition at a Walmart near their Fort Pierce, Florida, home 120 miles southeast of Orlando.
Swift wrote "the evidence will show that the purported scouting trip occurred while the family was on their way home from babysitting the children of a relative, that Mateen chose to drive into Orlando and to pass by the Pulse Night Club, and that Noor, who did not possess a driver's license at the time, was at most a reluctant passenger who wanted to go home."
Federal authorities arrested Salman in November at her mother's suburban San Francisco home and charged her with aiding Mateen's support of the Islamic State and then lying to FBI agents and police investigating the Orlando nightclub attack.
Salman and Mateen lived with their 3-year-old son in nearby Fort Pierce before the attack. Salman and her son moved in with an aunt in Mississippi immediately after the attacks before settling with her mother in her hometown of Rodeo, California, about 25 miles east of San Francisco.
Details of the charges remained under seal Tuesday and the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco did not return phone calls from The Associated Press.
Mateen told her he needed the ammo for his job as a security guard when she asked him about buying the ammunition, the court filing said.
"Although Noor may have been present when Mateen was possibly making preparations, mere presence alone is insufficient to establish aiding and abetting," Swift wrote.