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FBI Eyes Wife of Orlando Shooter as an Accomplice

Omar Mateen, right, with his wife, Noor Zahi Salman, and their son. Facebook photo
Omar Mateen, right, with his wife, Noor Zahi Salman, and their son. Facebook photo

The FBI is looking into whether jihadi killer Omar Mateen's wife helped him scout out Orlando's Pulse nightclub before the massacre and knew he planned to commit violence, according to published reports.

Noor Zahi Salman told investigators she had driven Mateen, 29, to Pulse nightclub on prior occasions, and tried to convince him not to go through with the attack, according to NBC News, which cited law enforcement sources.

Mateen was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday after killing 49 people and injuring 53, authorities say.

A grand jury has now been impaneled to determine whether Salman will be criminally charged in connection with the attack, according to Fox News.

As heartbroken victims recalled in grim detail the horror of the slaughter yesterday, investigators continued to gather information on the New York-born Muslim -- and took a close look at his wife, too.

An official who was briefed on the progress of the case, but insisted on anonymity, said authorities believe Salman knew about Mateen's plot ahead of time but are reluctant to charge her on that basis alone.

The investigation also has now extended to Afghanistan, where Mateen's parents were born, and Saudi Arabia, which he visited on pilgrimages in 2011 and 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In Washington, President Obama said investigators had no information to suggest a foreign terrorist group directed the attack. Obama said it was increasingly clear Mateen "took in extremist information and propaganda over the internet" and appeared to be "an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized."

The president went on to blast presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric as dangerous and contrary to American values while challenging Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban.

Obama also mocked Republicans for urging him to describe the attack as "radical Islam," saying: "If someone seriously thinks we don't know who we're fighting, if there's anyone out there who thinks we're confused about who our enemies are -- that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists we've taken off the battlefield."

In the days since the horrific mass shooting, a number of possible explanations and motives for the bloodbath have emerged. Officials say Mateen professed an allegiance to the Islamic State terror group in a 911 call during the attack; his ex-wife said he was mentally ill; and Mateen's father suggested he was driven by a hatred of homosexuals.

But despite his apparent hatred for gays, several patrons told news networks yesterday they had seen Mateen at the bar prior to the attack -- and some even admitted chatting with him on a gay dating app.

Jim Van Horn, 71, told The Associated Press that Mateen was a regular at the bar.

"He was a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men," Van Horn said. "He would walk up to them and then he would maybe put his arm around 'em or something and maybe try to get them to dance."

The gay dating app, Jack'd, said it has been unable to confirm so far that Mateen had a profile on the service. Grindr officials said they "will continue to cooperate with the authorities and do not comment on ongoing investigations." And the gay hook-up site Adam4Adam said the company is looking at conversations and profiles in the Orlando area for any activity by Mateen -- but hasn't found anything yet.

Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said earlier in the week that he was mentally ill, controlling and abusive.

Amid the latest reports about his club-going, she told CNN: "Well, when we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past that was recent at that time and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife and there was a lot of pictures of him. ... I feel like it's a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn't want everybody to know about."

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This article was written by O'Ryan Johnson from Boston Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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