The 24 yr old gunman, Mohammod Abdulazeez, who killed five American troops in an attack on a Chattanooga recruitment center last week did online research for militant Islamist “guidance” to justify committing violence. He may have believed such a “religious act” would wipe away his sins on earth including drug and alcohol abuse, an arrest and a lost job, officials said on Monday.
The Internet searches were discovered on electronic devices such as his smartphone analyzed over the weekend by the FBI Lab in Quantico, Virginia, several counter-terrorism officials confirmed.
ISIS/ISIL is well-known for there online recruitment of militant jihadis, but there is no evidence so far that he was specifically inspired by or directed by ISIS to carry out the attack on U.S. military targets. Though it was exactly the type of attack that the Syria and Iraq-based terror group has publicly called for over the past year.
“I don’t think that there is any evidence it was ISIL-inspired. He may have been seeking some religious guidance to conduct an act. He could readily find that anywhere online,” a senior official briefed on the investigation told ABC News.
Some of Abdulazeez’s friends, who often partied with him and went shooting with him at local ranges, may have known he was seeking answers in his religion, but they do not appear to have been aware he was about to take lethal action or that he may have become convinced that such an act would earn him a place in Heaven, the officials said.
“We may never know what his ultimate motivation was,” the senior official added.
The Reuters news agency reported on Monday that some officials said Abdulazeez had been inspired by “general propaganda” by jihadists and not specifically by ISIS, al Qaeda or other militant groups. One friend James Petty, told ABC News that Abdulazeez actually loathed ISIS for its brutality “He believed that ISIS was not a group to go towards” and did not think that “ISIS was even Islamic” said Petty.
Many jihadis who oppose killing innocent civilian “disbelievers” still view the military as a legitimate target.
With more than 30 FBI agents arriving in Chattanooga to go through leads generated in the massive counter-terrorism investigation, a diary belonging to the gunman and FBI interviews with his parents may be the key to unlocking his motives. The diary and interviews paint a picture of a disturbed, suicidal young man using drugs, preparing for bankruptcy and facing an appearance in criminal court, according to a representative of the shooter’s family.
Four days after the shooting, the FBI has not found any connection to overseas terrorist groups, but Mohammod Abdulazeez’s diary says that as far back as 2013, he wrote about having suicidal thoughts and “becoming a martyr” after losing his job due to his drug use, both prescription and non-prescription drugs, the family representative said.
Editorial Note: While reports so far seem to indicate a troubled young many faced with a rash of hardships and addictions, he is no different from many other Americans… With one glaring exception, Islam. Now, hold your Islamophobic comments for one second and hear me out. Martyrdom through murder is uniquely Islamic, although admittedly NOT the mainstream death in the in the course of waging jihad is considered a heroic act of a martyr by many.
A Pew Research Poll of Islamic countries last year showed a significant percentage of Muslims felt that Suicides Bombings can “often/sometimes” be justified. While the opinion that something is “justified” does not necessarily lead to martyrdom, this violent path to martyrdom does exist within some sects of Islam.
ISIS/ISIL, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas and Hezbollah are just a few of the Islamic Extremist groups that hold such violent path to martyrdom views. Odds are that you have nothing to fear from your Muslim IT guy, college roommate or convenience store clerk, however it is naive to assume there is no threat at all. In the case of Mohammod Abdulazeez, it may have been nothing more than a suicidal young man seeking religious absolution and Paradise in the afterlife. Much like a Death Row inmate “finding religion” in their final moments before execution, but that simply makes it all the more dangerous and unpredictable. As long as there are those who preach and believe in martyrdom through murder, Islam will never be a “religion of peace.”
Five families mourn their losses, another family prays for the recover of the injured police officer in the shooting and Mohammod Abdulazeez’s family is left with the guilt, shame and grief that their son delivered upon everyone in the name of “religion.”