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Tennessee shooter was ‘upset’ by wars in Gaza, Syria

Muhammad Abdulazeez came back from Jordan trip ‘concerned’ by lack of US intervention in region

Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the suspected gunman in the Chattanooga shootings, July 16, 2015
Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the suspected gunman in the Chattanooga shootings, July 16, 2015

Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, the Kuwaiti-born US citizen who shot and killed five marines at two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee before being killed by police last week, was “upset” by Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, according to a friend of his who was anonymously interviewed by Reuters on Saturday.

The friend showed the news agency a text message sent to him by Abdulazeez with a link to a long Islamic verse containing the words: “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him.”

The friend said at the time, only hours before the shooting, he thought nothing special of the SMS, but in retrospect wonders whether the killer was hinting at his future actions.

“Abdulazeez’s friends, who asked not to be identified for fear of a backlash, said he was upset about the 2014 Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza and the civil war in Syria,” the Reuters report said. Israel and Gaza-based terror groups fought a 50-day conflict last summer.

Abdulazeez visited Jordan in 2014, and expressed concern over the US’s lack of involvement in the region.

“He expressed that he was upset about (the Middle East). But I can’t imagine it drove him to this,” said his friend.

Other friends of Abdulazeez said that he felt “Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia were not doing enough to help, and that they were heavily influenced by the United States” regarding the civil war in Syria.

“He had always talked about it, but I’d say his level of understanding and awareness really rose after he came back” from his trip to Jordan said one of his friends.

The killer was struggling also with substance abuse, both on a personal health level and on how to reconcile these habits with his Muslim faith. His friends recalled that two or three years ago, he went to rehabilitation therapy.

“He used [alcohol and marijuana] to de-stress, when things were difficult at home, or whatever,” his friend who received the text message told Reuters, adding that Abdulazeez was also upset by tensions with his Palestinian parents, who nearly got divorced in 2009, according to court records.

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