Orlando shooter’s wife could be charged if she knew he was planning mass attack
Possibility that Omar Mateen received support from other individuals or groups is now central to the FBIs inquiry into the deadliest mass shooting in US history
The wife of the Orlando gunman could face criminal charges if the FBI establishes that she knew in advance he was planning a deadly attack.
Noor Zahi Salman has reportedly told agents that she tried to talk husband Omar Mateen out of the raid on the Pulse nightclub that became the deadliest gun massacre in US history.
Peter King, chairman of the homeland security subcommittee on counterintelligence and terrorism, told MSNBC after a classified briefing on Tuesday: If its true that she did know that it was going to happen and she tried to talk him out of it, then its possible criminal action against her, and again there might be more involvement by her, so all that has to be investigated.
The possibility that Mateen, 29, did not act alone but received support from other individuals or groups is now central to the FBIs inquiry, King added. If theres anybody else that he was dealing with, anyone else he was talking with, anyone else who may have known about this, this is all where the investigation is going now.
Wielding an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a handgun, Mateen opened fire at the club early on Sunday in a three-hour shooting rampage and hostage siege that ended with a SWAT team killing him. On Tuesday the last autopsy on the 49 victims was completed.
The Reuters news agency, citing a law enforcement source, said Salman could be charged as early as Wednesday.
Separately, Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which received a briefing on the attack on Tuesday, said: It appears she [Salman] had some knowledge of what was going on.
She definitely is, I guess you would say, a person of interest right now and appears to be cooperating and can provide us with some important information, King told CNN.
Vice-president Joe Biden, briefed at a national security meeting, said the FBI was getting to the bottom of the tragedy and it was becoming clearer and more straightforward than a lot of us even thought.
After the same meeting, Barack Obama said there was no information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalised.
NBC News reported that Mateens wife attempted to talk him out of the plot, citing officials familiar with her comments to the FBI, and that she was with her husband when he bought ammunition and a holster. She told the FBI that she once drove him to Pulse because he wanted to scope it out.
Another official said the FBI has Mateens phone and will try to use data from it to see if he had visited the club before, the Associated Press reported. Investigators have not ruled out charging anyone who may have had advance knowledge of the attack. It was also reported that Mateen browsed militant Islamist material on the internet for at least two years before the mass shooting.
FBI director James Comey has said the group is trying to determine whether Mateen had recently visited Disney World, one of the Orlandos celebrated theme parks, to consider it as a potential target.