- The Washington Times - Friday, July 17, 2015

Federal authorities said Friday they have chased 70 individual leads in their effort to dig into the personal history of Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old man who had spent time overseas prior to shooting and killing four Marines at two separate military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Authorities said during aApple-converted-space”> Friday press conference that they are investigating theApple-converted-space”> ThursdayApple-converted-space”> shooting as an act of terrorism, but have yet to rule out the possibility that the attack might be classified as another type of crime.

The investigation is being led by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which will attempt to determine whether Abdulazeez had ties to terror organizations prior to the attack, U.S. Attorney Bill Killain said during the press conference.

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“We will not leave any stone unturned for the victims of this heinous and cowardly act,” he said. “I can tell you that we have one common goal that is to protect the safety and the national security of our people and our citizens in this country.”

Abdulazeez’s overseas travel came to light less than 24 hours after the Justice Department launched a national security investigation into the attack. The Wall Street Journal reports that Abdulazeez spent several months in Jordan in 2014; prior to that, he had traveled in 2010 to Kuwait, the country where he was born, CNN reported.

Federal and local authorities painted a broader picture of the events surrounding the shooting during a joint press conference in TennesseeApple-converted-space”> Friday. The killer donned a vest with pockets that allowed him to carry extra gun magazines for the two rifles and a hand gun that he had acquired before implementing his deadly plan. Officers have spent the past 24 hours examining shell casings and looking at the trajectory of the bullets as they sprayed out of Abdulazeez’s vehicle and into the two different Chattanooga-based military facilities.

“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some may not have been,” said FBI Special Agent In Charge Ed Reinhold. “We will examine that.”

Abdulazeez killed and was killed within the confines of the military reserve, Mr. Reinhold said. Investigators have yet to determine whether he tried to injure himself before the Chattanooga police began firing on his car.

“We have not completed an autopsy on the individual,” Mr. Reinhold said.

The violent ambush was just “the latest in a string of recent shootings at stateside U.S. military facilities,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

Just last month, military security forces killed a 43-year-old man after he tried to break into the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. In November, two Navy civilian police officers confronted a knife-wielding man at a naval submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.

Federal authorities have also tracked and thwarted at least three Islamic-State inspired terror attacks on military bases this year.

House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, began calling for vigilance in U.S. efforts “to counter the evil and twisted ideology” that inspired vulnerable individuals to commit to “unconscionable acts of violence and hate” following the Chattanooga shooting. Counterterrorism experts are also pushing for the Obama administration to do more to protect the homeland from terror attacks.

“The attack in Tennessee should now force the Administration to recognize the [presence] of radical Islam in this country in large and growing numbers,” said Jeff Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s University in Texas. “It is a religiously driven view of the world that emanates not from poverty or any other factor except a strict constructionist reading of Islam.”

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