Orlando gunman’s wife knew about club attack plan

Omar Mateen drove around Orlando the night before the nightclub massacre, visiting several places, the mayor said.

An official said authorities believe that his wife, Noor Salman, about the plans for the attack that left 49 victims dead, but they are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.

Investigators have spoken extensively with her and are working to establish whether she recently accompanied Mateen to the Pulse club, said a second official. 

The official said investigators have not ruled out charging others, including Ms Salman.

The FBI has recovered Mateen’s phone and will use location data to verify whether he previously visited the club, the official said. Orlando is nearly a two-hour drive from Mateen’s home in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Mateen drove around on Saturday night before he opened fire at the gay nightclub at about 2am on Sunday in an attack that ended with the 29-year-old American-born Muslim being killed by a Swat team. 

“What I know concretely is that he was driving around that evening and visited several locations,” Mr Dyer said.

When asked exactly where Mateen visited, and whether the locations included theme parks as reported in news accounts, Mr Dyer said: “I think it’s been pretty accurately depicted on the news.”

Ms Salman was with Mateen when he cased possible targets in the past two months, including the Walt Disney World Resort in April, a shopping complex called Disney Springs, and the Pulse nightclub in early June, CNN and NBCs aid.

Massacre survivor, 20-year-old Patience Carter, shed more light on Mateen’s thinking, saying he talked about wanting America to “stop bombing my country” — a possible reference to his father’s native Afghanistan.

A number of possible motives and explanations have emerged, with Mateen calling 911 to profess allegiance to Islamic State, his ex-wife saying he was mentally ill, and his father suggesting he hated gay people.

On Tuesday, a US official said the FBI was looking into a flurry of news reports quoting people as saying Mateen frequented the nightspot and reached out to men on gay dating apps. Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, denied his son was gay and said that if he had been in the nightclub before, he may have been “scouting the place”.

Mateen’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said earlier in the week that he was mentally ill and abusive. Amid the latest reports about his club-going, she told CNN: “Well, when we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past that was recent at that time and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife and there was a lot of pictures of him.”

“I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn’t want everybody to know about.”

Ms Salman’s mother, Ekbal Zahi Salman, lives in Rodeo, California. A neighbour said Ms Salman visited her mother only once after she married Mateen.

Noor Salman’s mother “didn’t like him very much. He didn’t allow her [Noor) to come here,” said Rajinder Chahal. He said he had spoken to Ms Salman’s mother after the attack and she “was crying, weeping.”


Lifestyle

Keep chomping on those carrots so your eyes will be in perfect working order for that prolonged annual gaze through the keyhole as Home of the Year returns for a sixth series next week.Home of the Year offers a good excuse for a bit of good-natured interiors voyeurism

They differ from the more prevalent oranges we eat because their flesh, and often the skin, is crimson or deep red in colour.Michelle Darmody: The best time of year to buy blood oranges

The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

More From The Irish Examiner