The F.B.I. arrested the wife of Omar Mateen, the man who carried out the deadly terrorist attack in Orlando, Fla., and charged her with obstructing the investigation of the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, law enforcement officials confirmed on Monday.
“I can confirm the arrest did occur,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on MSNBC. “This is a matter that we continue to take very seriously,” she said. “We said from the beginning we were going to look at every aspect of this case, every aspect of this shooter’s life — to determine not just why he took these actions, but who else knew about them, was anyone else involved, is there any other accountability that needs to be had here in this case.”
Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, was also charged with aiding and abetting by providing material support, the officials said.
According to the New York Times, Salman was taken into custody by F.B.I. agents at her home outside of San Francisco, where she resided with her son.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina welcomed Salman’s arrest.
“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said in a statement. “But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”
“I am glad to see that Omar Mateen’s wife has been charged with aiding her husband in the commission of the brutal attack on the Pulse nightclub,” Mina continued. “Federal authorities have been working tirelessly on this case for more than seven months, and we are grateful that they have seen to it that some measure of justice will be served in this act of terror that has affected our community so deeply.”
Salman is expected to make an initial appearance on Tuesday at a federal court in Northern California.
In an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Salman claims to have been “unaware of everything” in connection with the attack. “I don’t condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people,” she said.
In the November interview, Ms. Salman said that her husband’s crime left her shattered and afraid, claiming that she lived in fear of turning on the television only to hear Mr. Mateen’s name.
“I just want people to know that I am a human. I am a mother,” Salman told the Times.
Members of Mateen’s family have also tried to shield Ms. Salman from public scrutiny, claiming that she wasn’t at fault for her husband’s actions.
“She is shocked, that poor lady,” Seddique Mateen, Mr. Mateen’s father, said in June, 2016. “And she doesn’t know anything.”
Before the attack, Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a 911 call.
“This is Mateen… I wanted to let you know I’m in Orlando, and I did the shooting,” he told 911 operators at 2:35 a.m. on June 12, 2016. “My name is, ‘I pledge of Allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic state.’”
Mateen also broadcasted his loyalty to ISIS on Facebook, writing, “I pledge my alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah accept me. The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west… You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes…now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
Mateen was communicating with Salman via text message during the shooting. According to law enforcement officials, the couple exchanged a text that read, “I love you.”
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]