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Omar Mateen's Widow Tells of Abuse, Says He Wasn't Gay

Pulse nightclub memorial

Noor Salman, Mateen's second wife, also says she had no idea he was planning a mass shooting.

Noor Salman, Pulse gunman Omar Mateen's widow, has given her first media interview, saying he was an abusive and secretive husband, but she had no clue that he was planning a mass shooting.

Also, unlike his first wife, Salman said she did not think Mateen was secretly gay. He frequently raped her, she said.

Adam Goldman, who interviewed Salman for The New York Times, did not include the latter information in his story but did so in a tweet afterward:

The story, published today, paints a harrowing picture of their marriage. Salman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, grew up in Northern California. After the breakup of her first marriage, she met Mateen in 2011 on a dating website called Arab Lounge. He was more religious than she was, but that was no barrier to their relationship, she told Goldman.

They wed soon afterward, and she became pregnant early in their marriage. But about six months after their wedding, he started hitting and choking her and pulling her hair. She was not aware that his abusive behavior was the reason for the end of his previous marriage, to Sitora Yusifiy.

Salman, however, was afraid to leave Mateen. He told her no one would believe her account of his abuse and that he would get custody of their son. He also threatened to kill her if she left. And he told her the violence would get worse if she told anyone.

Shortly before the Pulse attack, Mateen's behavior improved, Salman told the Times. "He had just been accepted into a police training program and had showered her with jewelry to celebrate," Goldman writes. "He had given her permission to visit her family in California and handed her spending money for the trip. And he had stopped hitting her."

Her suspicions were not raised by his frequent trips to Walmart to buy ammunition, she said. Mateen, who worked as a security guard, often visited a shooting range, and ammunition was cheaper at Walmart than at the range. She also said she was unaware that he sympathized with terrorist groups, and did not realize that on family trips to Orlando, two hours from their home in Fort Pierce, Fla., he was checking out potential targets.

"I was unaware of everything," she told Goldman. "I don't condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people."

On June 11, he told her he would not be home for dinner and had to visit a friend. He said goodbye to her and their 3-year-old son, and that was the last time she saw him alive.

But early the next morning, she received a text message from him, asking, "Did you see what happened?" When she responded that she had not, he texted back, "I love you babe." Later in the day she learned he had killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at the Orlando LGBT nightclub, then died in a shootout with police.

FBI agents have questioned Salman extensively, and some do not believe she was entirely unaware of Mateen's plans. "She lives in legal limbo," Goldman reports, noting that she could be prosecuted for lying to the FBI, although she and her lawyers say she has been truthful.

She also has moved three times since the Pulse attack and asked Goldman not to reveal her current location. She is so depressed, she said, that many days she cannot get out of bed, and she relies on relatives to care for her son. On why she finally decided to speak to the media, she said, "I just want people to know that I am human. I am a mother."

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