Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the lone-wolf terrorist who fatally shot five military personnel at two locations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last summer, had been radicalized for at least a year, according to an FBI agent.
Abdulazeez was radicalized online before a July 2014 trip to visit family in the Middle East and discussed committing jihad before carrying out the July 16 attack, FBI Special Agent Ed Reinhold told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“I know he wanted to commit jihad and commit jihad here in the United States, but I don’t think the specific target was necessarily picked out too far in advance,” Mr. Reinhold told the newspaper. “There was some planning involved, but not years worth.”
Mr. Reinhold said evidence collected by authorities shows Abdulazeez was a follower of Anwar al-Awlaki and radicalized after devoting himself to the deceased al Qaeda leader’s online sermons.
Abdulazeez, who was shot to death by police during the attack, was not on any terrorist watch lists and had no prior convictions, although he was facing a July 30 court appearance for an April DUI arrest.
While it appears Abdulazeez acted without any accomplices, Mr. Reinhold told the Times Free Press that federal authorities “have to be much more cautious with the information we release, in the event that we’re able to show others were involved.”
“I’m not saying we’re looking at any prosecutions, I’m just saying we have to be careful with any evidence we collect in the event that it does lead to somebody or something else,” Mr. Reinhold said.