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As the Trial of Orlando Shooter’s Wife Begins, New Evidence Undermines Beliefs

Pending submission by janrinok at 2018-03-07 18:01:49

The Intercept reports []

Newly released evidence today calls into serious doubt many of the most widespread beliefs about the 2016 shooting by Omar Mateen at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which killed 49 people along with Mateen himself.

[...] In particular, Mateen went to Pulse only after having scouted other venues that night that were wholly unrelated to the LGBT community, only to find that they were too defended by armed guards and police, and ultimately chose Pulse only after a generic Google search for "Orlando nightclubs"--not "gay clubs"--produced Pulse as the first search result.

[...] Beyond changing how the public understands the motives for this attack, this new perspective is likely to play a major role in the criminal trial of Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, that is now underway in an Orlando federal courtroom, with jury selection expected to last another ten days. Salman is accused of having aided her husband's June 12, 2016, attack on the Orlando LGBT nightclub. She is also accused of obstructing justice by lying to the FBI.

[...] The prosecution of Mateen's wife is highly unusual and troubling, riddled with evidentiary holes, and seemingly designed to feed, and exploit, community outrage which demands that someone be punished for this massacre. The decision to prosecute Salman is particularly odd given the DOJ's refusal to prosecute Marilou Danley, the girlfriend of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, despite far greater evidence [] suggesting her foreknowledge of his plans. Additionally, the DOJ refused to prosecute Katherine Russell, the white ex-Christian wife of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also in the face of evidence [] of possible complicity that was far stronger than exists for Salman.

[...] Mateen's alleged motive in choosing Pulse--that he wanted to target and kill LGBTs due to some toxic mix of self-hatred over his own sexual orientation and his fealty to Islam--has been treated as unquestionably true in countless media accounts, statements from public officials, and ultimately in the public mind. But ample evidence now affirmatively casts serious doubt about whether there is any truth to this widely accepted belief about Mateen's motives in attacking Pulse.

[...] in the days leading up to the Pulse attack, and indeed on the day of the attack itself, Mateen scoped out and considered numerous venues--such as Disney properties and shopping malls--none of which had any connection to the LGBT community or gay life. Moreover, once Mateen decided to attack nightclub, his phone records reveal that he searched for "Orlando nightclubs" --not "LGBT clubs" or "gay bars." The relevant facts from the motion just filed this afternoon[by Salman's lawyers] makes clear how dubious are the widespread beliefs about Mateen's motives

[...] Mateen, in the days and weeks leading to the attack, had scoped out numerous other potential venues [][paywall]--from Disney Parks to shopping malls. None had any connection to gay culture or LGBTs. Pulse seems to have been the only locale Mateeen ever considered that had any connection to gay life.

All of this has left investigators, and especially Salman's lawyers, strongly suspecting that Mateen chose Pulse not because he wanted to target LGBTs, but because he sought a soft target full of people.

[...] As the FBI investigation proceeded, some corrective reports in the U.S. media began to emerge, but they were often downplayed and given nowhere near the prominence with which the early, erroneous reports were hyped.

[...] as investigators scrutinized every aspect of Mateen's in-person and digital life and tracked down every last lead, all of these claims about Mateen's sexual orientation collapsed. FBI investigators ultimately concluded that there was no truth whatsoever to the theory that Mateen was gay--closeted or otherwise. To the contrary, they uncovered ample evidence that he was cheating on his wife with numerous women.

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