Wife of Orlando shooter knew of attack, could face charges - source | Reuters

 Wife of Orlando shooter knew of attack, could face charges - source
| Reuters

ORLANDO, Fla. The wife of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay nightclub knew of his plans for the attack and could soon be charged in connection with the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, a law enforcement source said on Tuesday.

The source, who was briefed on the matter, told Reuters that a federal grand jury had been convened and could charge Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman, as early as Wednesday.

FoxNews.com, citing an FBI source, said prosecutors were seeking to charge Salman as an accessory to 49 counts of murder and 53 counts of attempted murder and failure to notify law enforcement about the pending attack and lying to federal agents.

NBC News said Salman told federal agents she tried to talk her husband out of carrying out the attack. But she also told the FBI she once drove him to the nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out, the network said.

Mateen, who was shot dead by police after a three-hour standoff at the club early on Sunday, called 911 during his rampage to profess allegiance to various militant Islamist groups.

Federal investigators have said he was likely self-radicalised and there was no evidence that he received any instruction or aid from outside groups such as Islamic State. Mateen, 29, was a U.S. citizen, born in New York of Afghan immigrant parents.

"He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalised," President Barack Obama told reporters after a meeting of the White House National Security Council.

One official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators were only beginning to delve into the contents of Mateen's cellphone and other electronic devices.

The source said investigators believe Mateen browsed militant Islamist material on the internet for two years or more before the Orlando shootings.

(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington, Barbara Liston in Orlando, Fla., Yara Bayoumy in Fort Pierce, Fla. and Zachary Fagenson in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Peter Cooney)

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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2016 05:30:08 IST