Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot four Marines and wounded a police officer when he opened fire at two military recruiting and training centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday. Abdulazeez was also killed on the spot as police responded to the scene. While there were suspicions that Abdulazeez has ties with the ISIS, FBI said he is not included in any U.S. terror list and that no intelligence suggests that he has any involvement with any terrorist group.
Abdulazeez keeps a telling blog in the leads up to the massacre
The Daily Beast found Abdulazeez’s blog online that includes two telling posts both published on July 13. In one post titled “A Prison Called Dunya,” Abdulazeez spoke about the how life is just an “exam” that defines those who can inhabit the Paradise from those who will inhabit Hellfire.
“I would imagine that any sane person would devote their time to mastering the information on the study guide and stay patient with their studies, only giving time for the other things around to keep themselves focused on passing the exam,” Abdulazeez wrote.
“They would do this because they know and have been told that they will be rewarded with pleasures that they have never seen.”
In the second post titled “Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men,” he said the Prophet Muhammad did not have priests living in monasteries as companions. Rather, the Prophet had the company of mayor of a town, governor of a state, or leader of an army at the frontlines.
“We ask Allah to make us follow their path. To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world,” Abdulazeez wrote.
Timeline of Chattanooga shooting
At a little before 10:45 a.m., a witness saw a man “unloading a large gun on the Naval recruiting office,” CBS New York reported. At about 10:45 a.m., the first shooting happened and it lasted half an hour, another witness told CBS. The first barrage of fires was aimed at the recruiting center on Old Lee Highway where five branches of the military are holding their offices.
According to more witnesses who have spoken with CBS, there was no time to counter the shooting. “We got to the window to see what was going on. We saw the silver convertible Mustang, and he was just unloading some type of large rifle,” said one witness.
“It was one shot, and then it was just endless shots unloading,” another witness said.
“TVs, walls bullet holes in them. And there was what I thought was a Marine sitting on the sidewalk, injured in the leg,” recalled another witness.
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge, who sheltered himself together colleagues, estimated there were 30 to 50 shots fired.
Statements from the White House, the Pentagon, the FBI and the Department of Justice
President Barack Obama said that all pertinent government agencies are investigating the shooting and more information will be made public as more concrete detail emerged. The most important thing at the moment is for the families of those who were killed to know that America is one with them in grief.
“The deepest sympathies of the American people to the four Marines that have been killed. It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion,” Mr Obama said in a statement.
“And although the families are still in the process of being contacted, I want them to know that I speak for the American people in expressing our deepest condolences, and knowing that they have our full support as they try to overcome the grief that’s involved here,” he said.
“I’d ask all Americans to pray for the families who are grief-stricken at this point. And I want everybody to understand that we will be thorough and prompt in figuring out exactly what happened.”
“It is with a heavy heart that I learned of today’s tragic events in Chattanooga,” Defense secretary Ash Carter said in a statement.
“My thoughts and prayers – along with those of the men and women of the Department of Defense – are with the families of those killed in this senseless act of violence and with all those touched by this tragedy, including our Navy and Marine Corps family.”
“On behalf of the Department of Justice, I offer my heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the U.S. service members who were murdered and the law enforcement officer who was wounded in this shameful and cowardly act of violence,” Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement.
“ I have directed the FBI to take the lead in the national security investigation of this heinous attack on members of our military. The U.S. Attorney’s office and department prosecutors are also actively involved. In the days ahead, we intend to work with our partners in law enforcement and the intelligence community to ensure that the American people are protected and that justice is served.”
The FBI’s Knoxville Field Office, along with the Chattanooga Police Department and other law enforcement partners, are working jointly to investigate the massacre, the FBI said in a statement.
“While it would be premature to speculate on the motives of the shooter at this time, we will conduct a thorough investigation of this tragedy and provide updates as they are available,” the agency said.
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