Chattanooga shooting a ‘terror attack,’ FBI Director James Comey says

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chattanooga rampage that killed four U.S. Marines was a terrorist attack, FBI says.

The gunman who fatally shot five troops at a military site in Chattanooga on July 16 — including two Georgians — was inspired by a foreign terrorist group’s propaganda, the FBI director told reporters Wednesday.Discussing the evolving threat of terrorism at the New York Police Department on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey addressed a question many have been asking since July 16, when Mohammad Abdulazeez attacked a military recruitment center in Chattanooga, then took off in an open-top Mustang for a nearby Naval Reserve Center, where he killed five service members and wounded two others before dying in a shoot-out with police. “To my mind, there’s no doubt that the Chattanooga killer was inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda,” Mr.Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has approved Purple Heart awards for four Marines and a sailor who were killed in the July attack on military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a sixth Purple Heart for a Marine who was wounded and survived. The decision was announced Wednesday afternoon by Mabus’s office following an investigation and some angst from supporters about whether the awards would be approved.

According to CNN, Comey added that it’s difficult to determine which terrorist group may have inspired the shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, 24, who killed four U.S. Marines and one sailor before he was fatally shot by police. “It’s hard to entangle which particular source,” said Comey, who twice called the shooting a “terror attack,” according to Fox News. “There are lots of competing poisons out there.” • Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? The gunman — 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez — was shot dead during the intense firefight at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center.

In the meantime, Americans’ understanding of what the word “terrorism” means may have also been evolving: not only abroad, but at home in the United States. The Kuwaiti-born U.S. citizen had reportedly traveled to Jordan and had written a blog about his Muslim faith in the days leading up to the killings, mentioning jihad and saying life is “short and bitter.” In this image made from video, Paige Shartle, 10, and Debbie Shartle, 51, pay their respects at a memorial at the entrance of Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith’s neighborhood in Rossville, Ga. on Saturday, July 18, 2015. Legally, “domestic terrorism” refers to dangerous, illegal activities on US soil that “appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping,” according to the FBI. That’s a change from the 1990s, when the media covered a number of high-profile domestic attacks, from “Unabomber” Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski, to Eric Rudolph’s bombing of the Atlanta Olympics, to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Chuck Fleischmann, who has advocated for the servicemen who died to be awarded Purple Hearts, said, “It has been five months, to the day, since our community was struck by this horrendous attack and I am thankful the FBI has finally recognized it as terrorism.

There’s a “reluctance to think that people who look like the majority here” can commit such violence, Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Monitor in November. “It’s like the pattern doesn’t exist.” Yet some recent attacks, the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which is believed to have been motivated by white supremacist views, have revived the idea that “terrorism” can belong to any creed or ideology, so long as it inspires violence. And now, fear of “lone wolf” attacks not directly ordered by a terrorist organization are reconfiguring views of terrorism yet again, as law enforcement grapples with the difficulty of preventing attacks whose perpetrators may be motivated by an extremist Islamic ideology, but have not directly communicated with a larger group. “Terrorism is always a politically loaded word,” former FBI agent Michael German told Voice of America after the Charleston shootings. “It’s very important that there’s consistency with that across the various ideologies because otherwise it looks discriminatory, that violence by minorities is treated more seriously than violence against minorities.” But the Chattanooga shootings seemed especially perplexing, as emerging stories painted contrasting portraits of Abdulazeez: a capable engineering student.

Survivors said in interviews afterward that some of those killed acted with valor in facing Abdulazeez, who was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a pistol.

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