"I was unaware of everything," says Noor Salman in her first interview since her husband killed 49 people at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. As the FBI considers pressing charges against her, including lying to authorities, Salman tells the dark tale of her marriage to Omar Mateen. Six months after they were married, while Salman was pregnant with their son, Mateen began beating her, Salman tells the New York Times. It started with a punch to the shoulder; soon, Mateen was pulling her hair, choking her, and threatening to kill her. "He had no remorse," says Salman, 30. Scared of her husband, Salman says she had no idea what Mateen was planning, though she saw him buy ammunition and once drove with him to Orlando from their home in Fort Pierce, Fla. Salman says she had no idea Mateen was canvassing Pulse during their visit; Mateen said only that he wanted to take "a drive."
The ammunition was no surprise, Salman says, since Mateen often went to a shooting range. Though Mateen watched jihadist videos, Salman says she didn't believe he was a threat because he'd been cleared by the FBI after telling colleagues he was a member of Hezbollah. A professor who studies women's roles in terror groups is skeptical of Salman's professed ignorance: "It's possible she didn't know because he was not confiding in her, but she does have every incentive in the world to retell this story as a different kind of victim," she says. In fact, Salman says she only learned about the Pulse shooting hours afterward, though she'd called looking for her husband around 4am. In a text message, he wrote, "I love you babe." "I don't condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened," says Salman. "I just want people to know that I am human." Read the full interview here. (Read more Pulse Orlando shooting stories.)