FBI Probes California Roots of Orlando Terrorist’s Palestinian Wife

The FBI has visited the California childhood home of Noor Zahi Salman, the Palestinian-American wife of Omar Mateen, the terrorist who killed and wounded dozens of people inside the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning.

Salman was born in the U.S. and grew up in Rodeo, California, an East Bay suburb of San Francisco that lies along the Interstate 80 highway north of Berkeley en route to Napa. According to media reports, she had attended John Swett High School and been a student at Heald College, one of several for-profit institutions targeted by the government,

Her family still lives in her childhood home, according to NBC Bay Area, which reported that the FBI conducted a two-hour visit to her house Tuesday:

On Tuesday afternoon, three FBI agents visited her childhood house between 3 and 4 p.m., and where her mother still lives with her 14-year-old sister, an FBI spokesperson confirmed to NBC News. The agents, who were in plainclothes rather than FBI jackets, conducted a “knock and talk,” typical of an investigation of this kind. The visit lasted less than two hours. The FBI said the visit was not a raid.

Salman, 30, is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but may face charges herself. Suspicions have emerged that she knew of the impending attack, as well as his ammunition purchases, and may even have helped her husband “case” the Pulse club and Walt Disney World. She is said to have attempted to dissuade him, but did not inform authorities.

It is unclear whether Salman had her own connections to radical Islam. NBC reports that her mother was so devout that she would not eat at the home of other Muslim neighbors, lest their religious dietary standards not match up to hers. Salman also had a traditional Muslim wedding, but no marriage license reportedly exists. The Chicago Tribune notes that Salman and Mateen had both been married previously, and that neither Salman’s parents nor Mateen wanted her to drive a car:

Growing up, Salman’s parents tried to shelter their four girls.

“Noor never played in the street, and the girls were never allowed to drive,” Chahal said.

The neighbor quoted Salman’s mother as saying Mateen also kept her daughter from driving, until he recently allowed her to take a test to get her drivers’ license.

The Daily Beast reports that the family showed sympathy for the Palestinian cause against Israel:

Facebook accounts for her relatives show they are Palestinian. But they don’t appear to have been strictly religious. Salman and her sisters did not wear the hijab, according to posts, in contrast to ISIS’s requirements for women. Mateen’s ex-wife has stated that Mateen was not very religious when they were married.

While Salman’s family posted about Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza, they don’t appear otherwise political or ideological, and their social media profiles don’t indicate any sympathies with extremist groups.

The Tribune adds that Salman’s first marriage was arranged in the Palestinian territories, and that she lived in Chicago, which has a large Palestinian-American community.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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