Noor Salman, widow of the Orlando shooter, was found not guilty by the federal jury of aiding a foreign terrorist organization and of obstruction of justice in relation to the attack carried out by her husband in 2016.
Salman was arrested in January, 2017 after her husband, Omar Mateen, attacked the Pulse night club in Orlando in June 2016, and killed 49 people, injuring more than 50. She was arrested on the basis of aiding and abetting the worst terrorist attack in America since September 11, 2001; and on grounds of providing misleading statements during to law enforcement officers during her interviews after the attack.
In a statement to the FBI, after her arrest, they stated that Salman said she had known her husband was going to do something violent, but she was scared to come forward. “I wish I had done the right thing, but my fear held me back. I wish I had been more truthful.” The statement was shown in court. However, she said in an interview with the New York Times in November, 2016 that she was unaware of her husband’s plan, and she was a victim of his physical abuse.
According the prosecution, Salman deliberately participated in her husband’s plot even though she did not accompany him to the night club on the night of the shooting. They also said she lied during her interviews, but her defense argued that the prosecution exploited her lack of sophistication, and the FBI got her to admit to things she did not do.
Salman went on trial earlier this month. The jury began deliberating on Wednesday, and the verdict was revealed today. The jury came to a conclusion after hearing weeks of arguments and testimonies, deliberating for 12 hours before reaching a verdict.
As the Jury’s verdict was read, she covered her mouth and dropped her face towards the table. The relatives in the courtroom cried. Salman then hugged her lawyers, who wept as well, before being taken away from the courtroom by U.S Marshals.
Also present in the courtroom, Pulse victims and their families sat stone-faced in silence. Several of them expressed their disappointment with the verdict after the trial.
“It was a difficult case for all sides involved,” Judge Paul G. Byron of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida said. Sarah C. Sweeney, the prosecutor involved in the case, in a brief statement outside the courthouse thanked the jurors for their work and said, “We respect their verdict.”
Noor’s family said they were pleased with the verdict, but they will continue to grieve for the victims and their families. “This was a hard time, not only for us and Noor, but for each and every person grieving over a lost loved one.” Meanwhile, they plan to reunite Noor with her son and help her rebuild her life. “Noor has been in custody for over a year. At the time she was taken into custody, her son was almost 4. He started his first day of school without his mother,” according to one cousin. “Noor is looking forward to spending her days with her son and making up for lost time with him.”