Bob Kunst protests against the widow of the Pulse nightclub shooter Noor Salman, who faces charges of aiding her husband in killing 49 people in 2016, outside the federal court house in Orlando, Florida, U.S. March 1, 2018.  REUTERS/Joey Roulette
Bob Kunst protests against the widow of the Pulse nightclub shooter Noor Salman, who was acquitted of aiding her husband in killing 49 people in 2016.

Widow of Orlando nightclub gunman is acquitted in the attack



The widow of the gunman who slaughtered 49 people at a gay Orlando nightclub was acquitted Friday of helping to plot the attack and lying to the FBI afterward — a rare and stinging defeat for the U.S. government in a terrorism case.

Noor Salman, 31, sobbed upon hearing the jury's verdict of not guilty of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization, charges that could have brought a life sentence. Her family gasped each time the words "not guilty" were pronounced.

On the other side of the courtroom, the families of the victims of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting sat stone-faced and silent.

Within hours, Mrs Salman was released from jail and got into a waiting car without answering questions.

"Noor is so grateful. Her belief in the process was shown. She wants to get back to her son," her attorney Linda Moreno said. Family spokeswoman Susan Clary said Salman's family "always thought that Noor was the first victim" of her husband, Omar Mateen.

The verdict reverberated through Orlando and legal circles beyond.

"The government rarely, rarely loses these kinds of cases. It's got every single factor on its side," said David Oscar Markus, a Miami attorney who routinely tries federal cases. "It's a pretty impressive win for the defense and a devastating loss for the government."

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Mr Mateen, the American-born son of Afghan immigrants, was killed by police after opening fire in the name of the Islamic State group.

Relying heavily on an alleged confession from Mrs Salman, federal prosecutors charged that she and Mr Mateen had scouted out potential targets together — including Disney World's shopping and entertainment complex — and that she gave him the "green light to commit terrorism."

But the defense portrayed her as an easily manipulated woman with a low IQ and argued that she signed a false confession because she was tired after a long interrogation and feared losing her young son.

In a blow to the government's case, the FBI itself found that receipts and cellphone signals showed the couple were nowhere near Pulse on the day Mrs Salman said they were.

Also, prosecutors introduced no online posts, texts or any other evidence that Mrs Salman supported ISIL, and were hard-pressed to counter the defense's portrayal of her as a simple, sweet mother who loves her 5-year-old son, romance novels and the cartoon character Hello Kitty.

After the verdict, prosecutors said they were disappointed and took no questions.

"Noor Salman should never have been on trial," said Ahmed Bedier, a civil rights advocate and the president of United Voices of America. "Let this verdict serve as a message to law enforcement and prosecutors who railroad and persecute innocent people on little evidence, the people of this great nation will not allow it."

Some veteran attorneys said the government made a mistake in not recording the alleged confession. The jury was given only a written statement.

"The FBI needs to start recording their statements. It's a terrible practice. But it's the FBI's policy not to record," Mr Markus said. "Even local police agencies now record statements and are required to do so. Jurors in today's age want to hear the recording, they want to see the evidence."

Miami defense attorney David Weinstein said: "As much as we don't want to admit it, this is the age of the cellphone. It's ingrained in the minds of jurors, if it's not recorded, it didn't happen."

Christine Leinonen, an attorney and former state trooper whose only son was killed in the nightclub massacre, told The Orlando Sentinel that she was disappointed but not shocked by the verdict. She said Mrs Salman's alleged confession was "clearly coerced" and added: "Cops screw up their own cases."

Prosecutors had also accused Salman of falsely claiming that her husband didn't use the internet in their home, that he had deactivated his Facebook account years earlier, that he had one gun when he had three, and that he wasn't radicalized.

But the defense said that Mrs Salman who was born in California to Palestinian parents, was abused and cheated on by her husband and that he concealed much of his life from her. Her attorneys argued there was no way she knew her husband would attack the nightclub because even he didn't know it until moments before.

According to prosecutors, Mr Mateen intended to attack Disney World's shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and chose a new target.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Company profile

Company: Zywa
Started: 2021
Founders: Nuha Hashem and Alok Kumar
Based: UAE
Industry: FinTech
Funding size: $3m
Company valuation: $30m

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

How the UAE gratuity payment is calculated now

Employees leaving an organisation are entitled to an end-of-service gratuity after completing at least one year of service.

The tenure is calculated on the number of days worked and does not include lengthy leave periods, such as a sabbatical. If you have worked for a company between one and five years, you are paid 21 days of pay based on your final basic salary. After five years, however, you are entitled to 30 days of pay. The total lump sum you receive is based on the duration of your employment.

1. For those who have worked between one and five years, on a basic salary of Dh10,000 (calculation based on 30 days):

a. Dh10,000 ÷ 30 = Dh333.33. Your daily wage is Dh333.33

b. Dh333.33 x 21 = Dh7,000. So 21 days salary equates to Dh7,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service. Multiply this figure for every year of service up to five years.

2. For those who have worked more than five years

c. 333.33 x 30 = Dh10,000. So 30 days’ salary is Dh10,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service.

Note: The maximum figure cannot exceed two years total salary figure.

Hotel Silence
Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
Pushkin Press

THE HOLDOVERS

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa

Rating: 4.5/5

Tips on buying property during a pandemic

Islay Robinson, group chief executive of mortgage broker Enness Global, offers his advice on buying property in today's market.

While many have been quick to call a market collapse, this simply isn’t what we’re seeing on the ground. Many pockets of the global property market, including London and the UAE, continue to be compelling locations to invest in real estate.

While an air of uncertainty remains, the outlook is far better than anyone could have predicted. However, it is still important to consider the wider threat posed by Covid-19 when buying bricks and mortar. 

Anything with outside space, gardens and private entrances is a must and these property features will see your investment keep its value should the pandemic drag on. In contrast, flats and particularly high-rise developments are falling in popularity and investors should avoid them at all costs.

Attractive investment property can be hard to find amid strong demand and heightened buyer activity. When you do find one, be prepared to move hard and fast to secure it. If you have your finances in order, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Lenders continue to lend and rates remain at an all-time low, so utilise this. There is no point in tying up cash when you can keep this liquidity to maximise other opportunities. 

Keep your head and, as always when investing, take the long-term view. External factors such as coronavirus or Brexit will present challenges in the short-term, but the long-term outlook remains strong. 

Finally, keep an eye on your currency. Whenever currency fluctuations favour foreign buyers, you can bet that demand will increase, as they act to secure what is essentially a discounted property.

Premier Futsal 2017 Finals

Al Wasl Football Club; six teams, five-a-side

Delhi Dragons: Ronaldinho
Bengaluru Royals: Paul Scholes
Mumbai Warriors: Ryan Giggs
Chennai Ginghams: Hernan Crespo
Telugu Tigers: Deco
Kerala Cobras: Michel Salgado

Jordan cabinet changes

In

  • Raed Mozafar Abu Al Saoud, Minister of Water and Irrigation
  • Dr Bassam Samir Al Talhouni, Minister of Justice
  • Majd Mohamed Shoueikeh, State Minister of Development of Foundation Performance
  • Azmi Mahmud Mohafaza, Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research
  • Falah Abdalla Al Ammoush, Minister of Public Works and Housing
  • Basma Moussa Ishakat, Minister of Social Development
  • Dr Ghazi Monawar Al Zein, Minister of Health
  • Ibrahim Sobhi Alshahahede, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Environment
  • Dr Mohamed Suleiman Aburamman, Minister of Culture and Minister of Youth

Out

  • Dr Adel Issa Al Tawissi, Minister of High Education and Scientific Research
  • Hala Noaman “Basiso Lattouf”, Minister of Social Development
  • Dr Mahmud Yassin Al Sheyab, Minister of Health
  • Yahya Moussa Kasbi, Minister of Public Works and Housing
  • Nayef Hamidi Al Fayez, Minister of Environment
  • Majd Mohamed Shoueika, Minister of Public Sector Development
  • Khalid Moussa Al Huneifat, Minister of Agriculture
  • Dr Awad Abu Jarad Al Mushakiba, Minister of Justice
  • Mounir Moussa Ouwais, Minister of Water and Agriculture
  • Dr Azmi Mahmud Mohafaza, Minister of Education
  • Mokarram Mustafa Al Kaysi, Minister of Youth
  • Basma Mohamed Al Nousour, Minister of Culture
Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Challenge Cup result:

1. UAE 3 faults
2. Ireland 9 faults
3. Brazil 11 faults
4. Spain 15 faults
5. Great Britain 17 faults
6. New Zealand 20 faults
7. Italy 26 faults

THE BIO

Family: I have three siblings, one older brother (age 25) and two younger sisters, 20 and 13 

Favourite book: Asking for my favourite book has to be one of the hardest questions. However a current favourite would be Sidewalk by Mitchell Duneier

Favourite place to travel to: Any walkable city. I also love nature and wildlife 

What do you love eating or cooking: I’m constantly in the kitchen. Ever since I changed the way I eat I enjoy choosing and creating what goes into my body. However, nothing can top home cooked food from my parents. 

Favorite place to go in the UAE: A quiet beach.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Fight card

Bantamweight

Siyovush Gulmamadov (TJK) v Rey Nacionales (PHI)

Lightweight

Alexandru Chitoran (ROM) v Hussein Fakhir Abed (SYR)

Catch 74kg

Tohir Zhuraev (TJK) v Omar Hussein (JOR)

Strawweight (Female)

Weronika Zygmunt (POL) v Seo Ye-dam (KOR)

Featherweight

Kaan Ofli (TUR) v Walid Laidi (ALG)

Lightweight

Leandro Martins (BRA) v Abdulla Al Bousheiri (KUW)

Welterweight

Ahmad Labban (LEB) v Sofiane Benchohra (ALG)

Bantamweight

Jaures Dea (CAM) v Nawras Abzakh (JOR)

Lightweight

Mohammed Yahya (UAE) v Glen Ranillo (PHI)

Lightweight

Alan Omer (GER) v Aidan Aguilera (AUS)

Welterweight

Mounir Lazzez (TUN) Sasha Palatnikov (HKG)

Featherweight title bout

Romando Dy (PHI) v Lee Do-gyeom (KOR)

 

 

If you go

The flights
Emirates and Etihad fly direct to Nairobi, with fares starting from Dh1,695. The resort can be reached from Nairobi via a 35-minute flight from Wilson Airport or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, or by road, which takes at least three hours.

The rooms
Rooms at Fairmont Mount Kenya range from Dh1,870 per night for a deluxe room to Dh11,000 per night for the William Holden Cottage.

ABU DHABI'S KEY TOURISM GOALS: BY THE NUMBERS

By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

Politics in the West
Why all the lefties?

Six of the eight fast bowlers used in the ILT20 match between Desert Vipers and MI Emirates were left-handed. So 75 per cent of those involved.
And that despite the fact 10-12 per cent of the world’s population is said to be left-handed.
It is an extension of a trend which has seen left-arm pacers become highly valued – and over-represented, relative to other formats – in T20 cricket.
It is all to do with the fact most batters are naturally attuned to the angles created by right-arm bowlers, given that is generally what they grow up facing more of.
In their book, Hitting Against the Spin, cricket data analysts Nathan Leamon and Ben Jones suggest the advantage for a left-arm pace bowler in T20 is amplified because of the obligation on the batter to attack.
“The more attacking the batsman, the more reliant they are on anticipation,” they write.
“This effectively increases the time pressure on the batsman, so increases the reliance on anticipation, and therefore increases the left-arm bowler’s advantage.”

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

UAE SQUAD

Men: Saif Al Zaabi, Salem Al Marzooqi, Zayed Al Ansaari, Saud Abdulaziz Rahmatalla, Adel Shanbih, Ahmed Khamis Al Blooshi, Abdalla Al Naqbi, Khaled Al Hammadi, Mohammed Khamis Khalaf, Mohammad Fahad, Abdulla Al Arimi.
Women: Mozah Al Zeyoudi, Haifa Al Naqbi, Ayesha Al Mutaiwei.

Jewel of the Expo 2020

252 projectors installed on Al Wasl dome

13.6km of steel used in the structure that makes it equal in length to 16 Burj Khalifas

550 tonnes of moulded steel were raised last year to cap the dome

724,000 cubic metres is the space it encloses

Stands taller than the leaning tower of Pisa

Steel trellis dome is one of the largest single structures on site

The size of 16 tennis courts and weighs as much as 500 elephants

Al Wasl means connection in Arabic

World’s largest 360-degree projection surface

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver review

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Ed Skrein, Sir Anthony Hopkins
Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


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