While the rest of the world was paying attention to the sad conclusion of the Greek tragedy now in its third bailout season, the US was focused on a another tragedy playing out in the nation's heartland when in the latest mass shooting on US soil, 4 marines were killed when a gunman, since identified at Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, a naturalized citizen born in Kuwait, opened fire first at a military recruiting center and then at a Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee in what officials have called a "brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism."
Incidentally, the shooting took place hours before a jury found James Holmes, who killed 12 people in a Colorado theater shooting in 2012, guilty of murder.
As reported subsequently, the suspect's mother is originally from Kuwait and his father from Palestine. It is unclear when Abdulazeez came to the United States but for many years he lived with his parents in a two-story home in Hixson, a suburb of Chattanooga. He worked as an intern at Mohawk Industries Inc, a carpet manufacturer, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides power to the area. He most recently worked with Global Trade Express, according to the posted resume.
According to Reuters, the suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, is believed to have first gone to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes.
"Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled trying to make sure everyone was OK," said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the center.
The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles away, when around 10:45 am local time, he shot four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police about half an hour later. Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer reported in stable condition and a Marine.
At least three people were wounded in the attacks, including a Marine and a Navy sailor who is in critical condition, according to the hospital. One of those hurt was a police officer who was in stable condition.
According to Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the rampage was being treated "as an act of domestic terrorism," adding that no official determination of the nature of the crime had yet been made and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not ruled anything out.
"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 in a statement.
According to a resume believed to have been posted online by Abdulazeez, he attended high school in a Chattanooga suburb and graduated from the University of Tennessee with an engineering degree.
"I remember him being very creative. He was a very light minded kind of individual. All his videos were always very unique and entertaining,” said Greg Raymond, 28, who worked with Abdulazeez on a high school television program.
“He was a really calm, smart and cool person who joked around. Like me he wasn’t very popular so we always kind of got along. He seemed like a really normal guy,” Raymond said.
The FBI said it was too early to speculate on the motive for the rampage although in a follow up report we learned that the 24 year old had blogged as recently as Monday that "life is short and bitter" and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to "submit to Allah," according to an organization that tracks extremist groups.
The SITE Intelligence Group said a July 13 post written by suspected gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez stressed the sacrifice of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) “fought Jihad for the sake of Allah." Reuters could not independently verify the blog postings. Tangentially, Site Intelligence which has been most famous recently for being the first to track down and release most of ISIS' barbaric if Hollywood-style produced YouTube clips, was founded by Rita Katz who prior to her intelligence career served in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Further ties linking the shooting to terrorist Islamist elements emerged when the NYT reported that the father of a suspected gunman who killed four Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Thursday was investigated several years ago for "possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization."
Citing unnamed law enforcement officials, the paper said the gunman's father was at one point on a terrorist watch list and was questioned while on a trip overseas.
The paper quoted an official as cautioning that the investigation was several years old and had not generated any information on the son. The father was eventually removed from the watch list, the paper quoted the official as saying.
According to another, unconfirmed report, an Islamic State affiliated Twitter account tweeted about the Chattanooga military reserve center shootings by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez just as they began.
The account has since been suspended. The time stamp reads 10:34 a.m. in our screenshot of the tweet, which we took in New York, which is in the same time zone as Chattanooga. The shootings were reported between 10 and 11 a.m.
In a statement following the shootings Obama condemned the "heartbreaking" shooting deaths of four Marines Thursday in Tennessee, and said a full investigation is under way.
"We don't know yet all the details," Obama said. "We know that what appears to be a lone gunman carried out these attacks." The president said he wanted to extend "the deepest sympathies of the American people" to the four Marines and their families, and asked all Americans to pray for them.
And while Obama did not rush to judgment, and had no comment about what the potential next steps could be, it was roughly around this time that America's practically assured next president, Hillary Clinton, made it quite clear what the endgame of all these tragic events will likely be in the very near future:
- CLINTON: U.S. NEEDS ANTI-PROPAGANDA POLICY TO COMBAT ISIS
What better way to fight propaganda than with even greater propaganda even if it means the deaths of countless innocent people caught in the cross fire.