Her Husband Killed 49 People. Here Is What's on Her Mind

Noor Salman describes abuse at hands of Omar Mateen
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2021 10:50 AM CDT
The Wife of the Pulse Gunman Finally Opens Up
Visitors pay tribute to the display outside the Pulse nightclub memorial Friday, June 11, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The wife of the Pulse nightclub gunman was in March 2018 found not guilty of helping Omar Mateen plan the 2016 massacre that left 49 dead. Many were left unconvinced. The jury foreman went so far as to provide a statement to the Orlando Sentinel just hours later indicating the jury thought she knew something but lacked specifics, and that it would have made a difference if her alleged confession to police had been taped. Noor Salman didn't testify, and other than a New York Times interview she gave months after the attack, she hasn't publicly come to her own defense. That's now changed: Salman has spoken at length to Rhana Natour at Vice, describing the abuse she suffered at Mateen's hands and the pains she has taken to hide her identity over the years.

Natour writes that Salman has changed her last name, tells anyone who asks that her son was the result of a one-night stand, and, until recently, wore gray contacts and hair extensions to mask her appearance. The 35-year-old explains to Natour that she's ready to speak because she is tired of her silence being interpreted as guilt. "I just didn’t talk because I didn’t have the strength," she says. Salman met Mateen online in 2011 and says the abuse didn't begin until she became pregnant. She describes being raped, punched, kicked, slapped, and verbally insulted, and describes the one time she reached out to family for help. As for her confession, Natour describes her as "guarded" in answering, but saying that she was desperate to get out of the room (it was an 11-hour interrogation) and repeatedly asked to be given a lie-detector test. (Read the full story for much more, including why the defense declined to bring up the abuse at trial.)

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