Pop quiz, hotshot: Your spouse, who has rage-management issues, asks you to ride along while he’s casing out a nightclub, and then accompany him to the gun store to buy ammunition and a holster. He then tells you he’s going out with friends, but you’re pretty sure he’s about to launch a terrorist attack. What do you do?
If you’re Noor Salman, wife of the terrorist who killed 49 people, you do nothing. And the Department of Justice is about to have a very big problem with that, Pete Williams reports for NBC:
The Orlando gunman’s wife feared he was going to attack a gay nightclub overnight Saturday and pleaded with him not to do anything violent — but failed to warn police after he left, NBC News has learned.
Omar Mateen’s wife, Noor Zahi Salman, told the FBI that her husband assured her he was simply going to see friends, although she believed he was actually planning to unleash terror at the Pulse nightclub, a two-hour drive north from their home in Port St. Lucie. …
Noor apparently had an inkling about her husband’s sinister plot after she told the FBI she once drove him to Pulse because he wanted to scope it out.
In addition, she said she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said.
Authorities are considering filing criminal charges against Noor for failing to tell them what she knew before the brutal attack, law enforcement officials say, but no decision has been made.
She is cooperating with investigators, several officials add, but worry that once charges are filed, she may stop talking.
No decision has been made, eh? Let’s try this again. Pop quiz, hotshot: You’re a prosecutor working the case of the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Your perp is dead, and the only person with any legal liability is the spouse who helped case the joint and then didn’t bother to warn anyone that the attack was coming. Do you let her walk and offer no justice at all to the victims and the community? What do you do?
Here’s another point to consider. She knew enough to try to talk her husband out of the attack before he launched it, according to sources in the investigation:
If Salman thinks she’s getting out of this with a waggled finger from the FBI, she’s out of her mind. Misprision of a felony carries a three-year term, but that might wind up being Salman’s best-case scenario. If she assisted him in casing out Pulse, a prosecutor could make a charge stick of Salman being an accomplice or accessory before the fact. That generally requires that a suspect have knowledge of the crime and provided material assistance to or facilitated the crime. Driving her terrorist husband around to case potential targets certainly sounds like assistance and/or facilitation, especially given the admission she has allegedly made that she knew what he was doing.
Want to bet that a prosecutor looking to make a statement wouldn’t want to push to win on those counts in this set of circumstances? Normally, these are charges that a suspect would avoid by testifying against the main perpetrator. Unfortunately for Salman, he’s dead, so she’s all that prosecutors have left. Maybe her cooperation now will help in terms of which charges get filed, but that seems iffy at best.