On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Armed with a rifle, he opened fire on the people enjoying the club, killing 49 and wounding 58, before local police killed him in a shootout. When he died, Mateen had repeatedly pledged allegiance to Islamic extremist organizations and leaders, such as ISIS and ISIL, and suspicions quickly settled on his wife as a possible accomplice.
Noor Salman, Mateen’s wife, was accused of assisting her husband in planning the terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub. That case is coming to a close now, almost two years later, and Salman’s defense attorney has chosen a strange defense for his client, suggesting that she has a “low IQ” and is too unintelligent to know that her husband planned to attack the nightclub. Apparently, the jury bought it, finding her ‘not guilty.’
During the trial, the prosecution claimed that Salman aided and abetted her husband in planning and preparing for the assault against the LGBTQ+-friendly nightclub.
She was also accused of obstructing the investigation after the shooting occurred.
But her lawyer attacked the federal prosecutor’s story on multiple fronts.
First, the defense attorney claimed that the FBI fabricated Noor Salman’s statement.
Second, the defense attorney claimed that Salman had an IQ of 84. They suggested that this low IQ meant that she was incapable of understanding her husband’s plans or assisting with them in any way.
Further, the defense attempted to portray Salman as a simple person with poor English skills and who only worked two jobs in the entirety of her life.
However, the prosecution fought back against many of these claims.
They pointed out that despite claims that Salman was unintelligent to an extreme, she somehow managed to get an associate’s degree.
She also managed to be a passable mother, and even to do the research required to successfully add a beneficiary to a life insurance plan.
Noor Salman’s family, in statements made to the media outside the courtroom, repeatedly claimed that she could not possibly be capable of participating in her husband’s plans.
However, the prosecution revealed during the trial that just days before the shooting, Mateen asked his wife which she thought would more upset the people, “an attack at Disney or a club?”
That certainly serves to undercut the claims of Susan Clary, the spokesman for the family, who suggested that Salman was Omar Mateen’s victim.
Susan Clary also took the opportunity to downplay Noor Salman’s Islamic beliefs in front of the cameras, perhaps hoping for more favorable treatment.
According to Susan Clary, Noor Salman’s son was asking where his mother was and when they would be able to color Easter eggs.
A reporter asked Clary why Salman, who is a Muslim, and her son, who is presumably also Muslim, would color eggs for Easter.
Coloring eggs for Easter is generally considered a Christian tradition, though it actually derives from pagan traditions. However, none of those make it something that a Muslim family would generally do.
According to Clary, Salman is ‘ethnically’ Muslim, an attempt to suggest that she does not actually follow the religion.
However, despite attempts to represent otherwise, or to represent her as an ‘ethnic’ Muslim, Salman’s court testimony makes it fairly clear that she had some knowledge of the plans of her husband in advance of the shooting.
Evidence presented by the prosecution repeatedly made it fairly clear that Salman, at the very least, knew her husband was planning something untoward.
Prosecutors painted a picture of Noor Salman as knowledgeable about her husband’s plans, if not actually complicit in planning and acquiring materials for the shooting.
Omar Mateen’s Islamic-inspired violence and his choice of targets (a gay nightclub) are not the only examples of violence inspired by the religion in recent years. However, the shooting is among the most devastating examples of such violence in recent memory.
The work by the prosecution, however, wasn’t enough to secure a guilty verdict in the case. The jury, after hearing the claims made by both the prosecution and the defense, also heard claims that the prosecution withheld evidence from the defense since the beginning of the trial.
Among the information withheld were such important pieces as the fact that Omar Mateen’s father was an FBI informant, for example.
Whatever it was that convinced jurors to let Noor Salman go free, she now plans to return to California with her son.