Noor Salman gave husband the 'green light' to attack Pulse, prosecutor says

ORLANDO ― Noor Salman, widow of the Pulse nightclub shooter, gave her husband the “green light” to commit terrorism, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday.

“None of the victims that night knew the horrific events that were about to unfold. No one knew ― except for two people,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Mandolfo said. “Omar Mateen and his wife.”

Salman, 31, is charged with aiding and abetting her husband’s 2016 attack on Pulse nightclub in Florida and obstructing justice. She has pleaded not guilty. In the courtroom, she sat between her two defense attorneys with a blanket in her lap, occasionally taking notes and sipping water.

During opening statements, attorneys for both sides painted competing portraits of the defendant. Mandolfo told jurors that Salman knew her husband planned to attack Pulse, and nonchalantly shopped for leather biker jackets online while he sprayed bullets into innocent people. Defense attorney Linda Moreno countered that far from being a conspirator in a terrorist act, Salman was a victim of her husband’s abuse, and in the dark about his twisted plot.

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An aerial view shows the Pulse gay night club after a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club, where as many as 20 people have been injured after a gunman opened fire, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Demetrice Naulings sobs outside the Orlando Police Headquarters where police are interviewing witnesses in the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
Concerned friends and family of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting wait outside of the Orlando Police Department on Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Ray Rivera, DJ at the Pulse nightclub, is consoled by a friend outside of the Orlando Police Department on Sunday, June 12, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Police stand in front of one of the houses that officials indicated was connected to the Orlando shooter in Port St. Lucie, Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
An aerial view shows the Pulse gay night club after a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Police stand in front of one of the houses that officials indicated was connected to the Orlando shooter in Port St. Lucie, Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Officers arrive at the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
An aerial view shows the Pulse gay night club after a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Orlando Police Chief John Mina and other city officials answer the media's questions about the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski
Police lock down Orange Avenue around Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman in a shooting rampage in Orlando, Florida June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski
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Mandolfo laid out a timeline of events that he said would prove Salman not only knew about her husband’s plan but would show she encouraged and assisted him. He told jurors that Salman joined Mateen on trips to scout potential locations and to buy ammunition. The couple planned extensively for Mateen’s death, he said, by adding Salman as the death beneficiary of Mateen’s bank account and by purchasing assets, such as jewelry, which she could later sell. In an 11-day period, the couple spent around $30,000, he said.

The government doesn’t have to prove that the steps Salman allegedly took to further the crime were as big as her husband’s, he added.

The prosecution’s strongest piece of evidence is a statement Salman gave FBI agents in the hours following the massacre in which she said she knew about Mateen’s plans to attack Pulse.

“She knew he was going to do something bad,” Mandolfo said. “She knew that Omar Mateen was a radical, and an extremist ... someone who had been talking about jihad for years.”

Moreno, Salman’s attorney, roundly rejected the government’s depiction of Salman.

“Her only sin was that she married a monster,” she said. “She was unknowing and unaware of his plans.”

She described Salman as “simple” and easily manipulated, and said her client was coerced into a false confession by FBI agents trained in the Reid technique, a popular method of interrogation that some say intentionally misleads suspects. Forensic evidence will prove that the claims made in the alleged confession are false, she said.

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Omar Mateen, suspected Orlando nightclub shooter
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Omar Mateen, suspected Orlando nightclub shooter
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Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting suspect Omar Mateen, 29 is shown in this undated photo. Orlando Police Department/Handout via Reuter ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Moreno said Salman does not have any political leanings, describing her as a devoted mother who was abused by Mateen throughout their marriage. Salman has alleged that Mateen physically assaulted her, raped her, threatened to kill her and controlled her daily activities.

“She was not his partner, she was not his peer, and she certainly was not his confidant,” she said, calling Mateen a sadist and a compulsive liar who often cheated on his wife.

Salman, who has a 5-year-old son, has been incarcerated since her arrest in January 2017. She is in protective custody and spends 23 hours a day alone, family spokesperson Susan Clary said. She has not seen her son, though she is allowed to speak to him on the phone each day.  

“Her son knows that his father is dead. He knows that his father was bad and killed a bunch of people. He doesn’t understand why his mother is in jail for something his father did,” Clary told HuffPost on Tuesday, standing across the street from the facility where Salman is currently being held.  

Salman’s family says the version of her presented by federal prosecutors is wildly inaccurate.

Salman is traumatized by her violent marriage to Mateen, her aunt, Susan Adieh, who is attending the trial, said, adding that her niece is sweet and nonviolent.

“We know she’s no part of this,” she said, “None.”

29 PHOTOS
Dear Orlando: Portraits of Pulse shooting survivors, families and friends
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Dear Orlando: Portraits of Pulse shooting survivors, families and friends

Omar Delgado, police officer

I would see the caller ID, the picture. I was like, "I know this person's never going to be able to pick up this phone again." 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Dimarie Rodriguez, mother of victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez

I would text him "Night, Night." And he would always text back, "Night, night, I love you."

But that night, there was no "Night, Night," because I knew he was at the club. I had sent mine. And he sent me "I love you." But he didn’t send his "Night, Night" because he was out.

I saw in my mind, I saw him lying face down. I said "Wow, I understand where he is, he is lying face down." Because in my mind I saw it.

[T]hey told me, "We found that he was not alive, because we found his ID. We found him face down."

He took a piece of me.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Mina Justice, mother of victim Eddie Justice

I feel stupid, I really do, because I said, "Get off the phone so he won't hear you. Text me."

So he got off the phone.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Kate Maini, bartender and survivor

I remember carrying Stanley (Almodovar) to the pickup truck where they were shuttling people to the hospital. He's a regular of mine. He came in every Saturday. Drank gin and tonic every week.

I said, "Keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open, keep your eyes open."

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

John Mina, Chief of Orlando Police Department

We tried to negotiate with him. He wasn't answering our phone calls anymore. 

That's when we started getting information from inside that he's got these bomb vests on. He's got these explosives. Two different canine teams had made a positive indication on his car, which was right outside, for the presence of explosives. 

The officers were feet away from probably the worst mass-murderer in U.S. history. Some are inside the club, some are right outside the club, and they hear over the radio that there's explosives and someone comes on and says, "Hey, you guys might want to think about backing off." 

And the officers just look at each other and they just stay there. 

They did not flinch, did not move. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Emily Addison and her children

The text messages said, "Emily, they shooting at folks. I'm scared." The next one said, "In bathroom. People are shot." The next one, "I'm scared." The next one , "Please call the police." The last one said, "If I die, please call my mom."

Read their full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Rob Domenico, board member of The Center in Orlando

I took the phone. "Ma'am, I apologize, but at this time we have not heard from your son. But if we do, we will take down your number and call you back immediately"

Of course, we never did.

And that haunts me.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Magda Soto, mother of victim Luis Conde

It really hadn't been easy after so many years apart and to spend all that time together was great. I know I will see him again.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Ray Rivera, DJ and survivor

You can probably tell by the bags under my eyes, I have a hard time sleeping. Honestly, it's been a rough year. I go to counseling. I think it's more the fact that I don't take anything for granted anymore. Sometimes my son will want to do something or my wife will want to do something. I'm just so tired. Now I make the time to actually say, "Okay. You know what? Let's go ahead and go."

Read the full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Mayra and Brian, mother and brother of victim Amanda Alvear

And then the last time I heard from her she was when she was the karaoke host at a gay bar. She sent me a screenshot of her doing a frowny face because she was like "I tried to call you because I'm doing Karaoke but you're busy. "

She wrote “I love you.” 

I wrote “I love you.” 

The next day she passed. 

Read their full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Alison Clarke, first responder

I actually worked at Pulse when it first opened. A handful of times, I worked as the off-duty officer. I've been there as a patron. I know how involved Pulse is within our gay community. I know how significant it is for our gay community. To stop short, look up, and see that Pulse logo, it was surreal for me because I'm like, "This is our club. This is our community. There's somebody in there that's targeting our community."

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Angel Colon, survivor

I felt like the hospital was my refuge. I felt like I was safe after being there for three weeks. 

I had panic attacks thinking, “Is living out in the world going to be the same? Am I safe in the world again?"

"How is it possible to forgive? How is it possible to move forward from something like this?"

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Effrain Colon Ortiz, survivor

The last time he saw him was outside the bar that night. He came early, he hugged and kissed him. He said, "I'm very happy as I met someone, he's somebody." He went inside and that was it. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Javier Nada, survivor

My nieces sent a desperate message: "Please answer. Please tell me what happened." 

They knew it was true because it was all over the TV in Mexico. But they don't know what happened until the Mexican consul opened phone line for all the families. The consul told me "Don't worry. We're going to bring your family. Who do you want?" I told my mom, my son, and they told me "Don't worry. We're going to bring them." 

And they did it very fast. Four days later. 

Almost 11 years I hadn't seen my mom.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Melissa Delgado, survivor and friend of victim Stanley Almodovar

As time passes, you realize, "Damn, this did happen. It happened to you, he's no longer here."

When you see several people get murdered, when you're held hostage, when you get hit with bombs and shit falling all over you then you're in a hospital, it's a whole lot that people will never understand. I don't expect them to but I become more angry when people ask questions like,

"How does it feel a year later or how is your recovery?"

What recovery?

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Sam Maldonado, survivor, speaking about victim Gilbert Ramon Silva Menendez

The next day when they were giving the names, his came up. I was devastated. I did not know how to call his mom because he was the only son. I did not how to call her or say, "Listen, I was there." 

I did talk to her at the funeral. I apologized. 

She said, "Don't worry. There's always a reason. It was not your time." 

She hugged me and then she said, “He was so cute.”

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse

When you grow up and you face one tragedy, trial, tribulation after another, it changes you. I don't think it changes how you're hardwired, but it certainly makes your coping mechanisms different. I've always looked at life, I don't want to say necessarily black and white, but I do look at it as a sink or swim, and I'm a swimmer.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Isabella Poma, daughter of Pulse owner Barbara Poma

We would always play hide and seek because there's three different rooms, and I remember one time we went up to the balcony and we played up there. 

I went inside Pulse after it happened with my mom, she was telling me how somebody that I knew was hiding up there, and it hit me. 

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Luis Roldan, survivor and former partner of victim Eddie Justice

I wake up. I'm not even crying. I'm smiling. 

Like I feel my lips at times, and at that time it felt so real, and I've never felt that before. 

I called his mom and she’s said, “I'm the only one who hasn't had a dream of him”. 

She thinks that it's because maybe he doesn't want to hurt her more than she's already hurting or something. Maybe she's not ready to see him in a dream.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Ramses Tinoco, survivor

That night at Pulse, he was missing. We were celebrating our birthdays together. I didn't know where he was. When I got outside I ran like crazy and I forgot I was with Chris. I went back. I didn't care. I went back and I found him in the middle of the road, screaming. 

We hugged each other like we never hugged before.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Josean Garcia, survivor and friend of victims Amanda Alvear and Mercedes Flores

That runs through my mind all year long, on and off. And luckily, I mean, I haven't had any bad dreams, after the first month. The first month was the worst. I was in a relationship at the time, and I remember the next morning I would hear the story, do you remember last night?

And I'd say no, what? 

You woke up screaming.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Jaimee Hahn, ER nurse

I said, "20? You mean somebody was shot 20 times?" 

They said, "No. 20 patients." 

I was still just trying to process that. About five seconds later that the first one came in the door and the next one came in the door and they just never stopped. Just didn't stop and it was devastating injuries.

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Chris Hansen, survivor

The first three shots: I thought it was music.

I felt the bass in my body on the floor against that wall. I felt it. I saw it.

I thought it was the music.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Leo Melendez, survivor and co-worker of victim, Javier Jorge Reyes

I was in a coma for three weeks. 

On July 3rd, I woke up. The first person I saw was my mother. She was right there next to me because my mother never left my side. I remember seeing her and she started crying. 

"Where's Javier?" 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Valeria Monroig, sister of victim Jean Carlos Nieves Rodriguez

That weekend before my brother died, we were in a fight because I told my mom I hated her. 

Read her full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Robert Pressley, son of victim Brenda Lee Marquez McCool

That night she was joking with us and she said, “I’m going to change my clothes. I’ve got a bad feeling something might happen.” Me and my brother went out so she said, “I love you guys so much.” 

My mom never says it like that so I thought it was weird. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Angel Santiago, survivor

Throughout my life, especially when I was younger, I had nightmares where someone’s chasing me and I’m running and hiding. I find somewhere to hide, a closet, and sure enough I’m found.

That night was just like that but this time it was real. 

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Rodney Sumter, bartender and survivor

It was 2:00 a.m. I was closing out my checks and about to collect my tips. I was talking to my friend and I remember it sounding like a broken speaker. It was crazy how loud everything was.

Once we realized it was gunshots, we hit the floor and just prayed that it would stop.

It kept going.

After a while, you realize they were going after any and everybody.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

Orlando Torres, survivor

I went to the bathroom. Within minutes, I started hearing all those gunshots. 

I said hello, but I didn't get a chance to say goodbye. 

That's what gets me.

Read his full story.

(Photo by Dear World / Daymon Gardner)

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Melissa Jeltsen will be reporting from the trial. Follow her for updates.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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