Nearly five months after Omar Mateen went on an overnight shooting rampage at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead and dozens more wounded before he was killed by police, the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11, his wife has broken her silence in an in-depth interview with The New York Times. Noor Salman, who was a person of interest in the investigation into the case is now living in hiding, trying to avoid the media. She agreed to the interview with Times reporter Adam Goldman, she said, because, “I just want people to know that I am human. I am a mother.”
Though she was unwilling to discuss her several interviews with the FBI, Salman opened up on a range of topics about their marriage and the secret life he led as a spousal abuser. Of the shooting spree he unleashed in June, she said, “I was unaware of everything. I don’t condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people.” Federal prosecutors are still considering pressing charges against her.
Salman, 30, talked about her upbringing in Rodeo, Calif., how she struggled in school but worked her way to an associate degree in medical administration from a local college, but how her main dream was always to fall in love. She married a man in 2006, through an arrangement made by her father, who had emigrated to the U.S. from the West Bank in the 1980s along with her mother. But there was no love in that marriage, she said.
In 2011, she met Mateen and the two quickly fell in love, married and Salman became pregnant. But just six months into their marriage, she said he began showing a darker side. He began to hit her, would pull her hair, choke her and threaten to kill her. There was also verbal abuse. If the two were in public and she did something he didn’t approve of, Salman said, Mateen had a code word he used often. He would call her “shar” — short for sharmuta, which means slut or whore in Arabic. He also threatened to leave her and take their son, suggesting she might become destitute because she didn��t have a job.
But in the weeks leading up to the attack, Salman recalled that his behavior had, just abruptly as it changed years earlier, softened and he treated her with kindness again. She revealed what happened on the day leading up to the attack and explained why he gave her $1,000 in cash prior to him saying he had to visit with a friend, before kissing and hugging her and their 3-year-old son goodbye.
Read the full story at The New York Times.