New York: The wife of Omar Mateen who gunned down 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida said that she knew her husband had a dark side, but did not know the depths of his evil.
Mateen’s second wife Noor Salman, 30, said in an interview with the New York Times published on Tuesday, that she was “unaware of everything” about her husband’s plans to attack the Pulse night club on June 12.
“I don’t condone what he has done,” she said, adding “I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people.”
She also denied any involvement in the attack or any knowledge of what her husband was going to do. Salman described him as someone who angered easily, beat her often and lived his life in secret.
This is the first interview Salman – who married Mateen after meeting him through an online dating site in 2011 – has given since the mass shooting.
Mateen, the son of Afghan immigrants, never told Salman that his first wife left him after he began beating her. They were engaged shortly after meeting online and married soon afterward.
In the interview, Salman admitted that she was aware Mateen watched jihadi propaganda videos, but, she said, “the FBI let him go”.
Mateen was investigated twice by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013 and 2014; both times federal authorities said he did not pose a threat.
Her husband’s crime, Salman said, has left her shattered and afraid. She lives in fear of turning on the television and hearing Mateen’s name.
She often cannot get out of bed and depends on members of her family to take care of her son.
Salman has moved three times since the attack, hoping to avoid the news media.
According to the New York Times, Salman lives in legal limbo, with prosecutors weighing charges that could include lying to the FBI.
Her lawyers, Linda Moreno and Charles Swift, has said that their client did nothing wrong.
They declined to let Salman, disclose about her discussions with the FBI during the interview, but Swift said she had told investigators “everything she knew to the best of her ability”.
In the interview, Salman said she had a reason for talking publicly now: “I just want people to know that I am human. I am a mother.”
On the day of the attack, Mateen came home from work around 3 pm. He told Salman about the trip to California to visit her mother for the first time in years. He gave her $500 for the trip, and drove her and their son to McDonald’s. They stopped at a bank, where Mateen withdrew another $500 for his wife. Then he left.
At home that night, Salman filled out a Father’s Day card she had bought for her husband and went to bed. At about 4 am, Mateen’s mother called, worried and looking for him. Salman tried calling him on his cellphone but got no answer.
Finally he sent her a text message: Did you see what happened? She texted back that she had not.
“I love you babe”, he responded, the last she heard from him.
Later that morning, she learned from the FBI that her husband had died in a shootout after carrying out the mass murder.