Attorneys for Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub killer Omar Mateen, moved to dismiss the charges or declare a mistrial on Sunday night after the prosecution revealed on Saturday that Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, worked as an FBI informant from 2005 through the summer of 2016.
According to defense lawyers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney sent them an email on Saturday night that revealed Seddique Mateen was a confidential FBI source and is also under investigation for suspicious money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan, based on documents that were discovered in his home on the day of the nightclub massacre. Noor Salman’s trial had already been in progress for a week when this disclosure was made.
“It is apparent from the Government’s belated disclosure that Ms. Salman has been defending a case without a complete set of facts and evidence that the Government was required to disclose,” the defense attorneys declared.
The defense said the new revelations present two theories of the case that should have been on the table since the beginning of Salman’s trial: “1) Omar Mateen and his father, rather than Ms. Salman, conspired to support ISIS; or 2) the FBI’s focus on Ms. Salman was based on its own motive to avoid responsibility for its failures with its own informant, Seddique Mateen, as well as his son.”
The defense pointed out that one of the allegations against Noor Salman is that she helped Omar Mateen cook up a cover story to help him slip away and carry out the Pulse shooting, but if Seddique Mateen had “some level of foreknowledge” about the terror plot, such a cover story “would have been completely unnecessary.”
Salman’s attorneys also argued that Seddique Mateen used his connections with the FBI to block an investigation into his son in 2013. That investigation was launched after a joint operation between the FBI and the local sheriff’s department received a credible tip that Omar Mateen was planning a terrorist operation. After investigating him, putting him under surveillance, interviewing him twice, and even obtaining a written statement in which Omar Mateen admitted he lied to agents during the interviews, the operation concluded in March 2014 that he was not a threat.
“Mateen’s father played a significant role in the FBI’s decision not to seek an indictment from the Justice Department for false statements to the FBI or obstruction of justice against Omar Mateen,” the motion from the Noor Salman defense claimed, referring to the 2013-2014 investigation.
The defense further accused the FBI of choosing not to administer a polygraph test to Salman “based on the FBI’s desire to implicate Noor Salman, rather than Seddique Mateen, in order to avoid scrutiny of its own ineptitude with the latter.”
As for Seddique Mateen’s curious money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan, the government’s email to defense lawyers said that an anonymous tip was received in 2012 stating that the elder Mateen was “seeking to raise $50,000-$100,000 via a donation drive to contribute toward an attack against the government of Pakistan.”
The money transfers occurred in March and June 2016, before the June 12 attack on the Pulse nightclub. The last transfer occurred only a week before the shooting.
Seddique Mateen infamously attended a rally for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign less than two months after the Pulse massacre and was seated directly behind the candidate during a speech. The Clinton campaign claimed it did not know he was present, although he did some media appearances afterward and showed off a sign he made supporting Clinton.
Seddique Mateen was on the prosecution’s witness list for the Noor Salman trial but was not called to testify, although his wife Shahla Mateen testified.