Authorities, adamantine in their determination to ignore Islamic jihad, are still searching for a motive. “In Chattanooga, a Young Man in a Downward Spiral,” by Manny Fernandez, Alan Blinder, Eric Schmitt and Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times, July 20, 2015:
Only because they are willfully blind to what is staring them in the face.
As the F.B.I. sent more investigators into this city Monday to explore dozens of possible leads, a picture took shape of a deeply troubled young man who struggled with mental illness and drug abuse at the same time he found himself alienated from United States policies in the Arab world, according to the authorities, friends and the family representative.
The authorities who were examining Mr. Abdulazeez’s computer found that he had viewed material connected to Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was killed in Yemen by an American drone strike in 2011, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.
Mr. Abdulazeez had suffered for years from depression and possibly from bipolar disorder, the family representative said, adding that he had abused alcohol and possibly prescription painkillers and had gained and lost jobs. In his last months, he faced the prospect of both bankruptcy and jail time on a drunken-driving charge….
In a few pages of rambling notes being pored over by the F.B.I., Mr. Abdulazeez wrote about suicide and martyrdom as long ago as 2013, a senior United States intelligence official said….
The family representative said the notes, all more than a year old, expressed Mr. Abdulazeez’s discontent with United States military action in the Middle East, and “talks about his life being worthless.” They are less a diary, the representative said, than a scattershot set of observations, some of them “gibberish,” while others “were clearly things that were written by someone who was very depressed.”
“These are not the most ‘I’m going to martyr myself’ sort of statements,” the representative said. “It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a depressed person who is reading stuff about this and is like, ‘This is a great idea.’ ”
The authorities said they were investigating what they described as a likelihood that Mr. Abdulazeez received some kind of assistance in organizing his attack, perhaps financial aid in obtaining weapons. But it remains unclear whether anyone who helped him was aware of what he intended to do, or when….
On July 11, Mr. Abdulazeez stocked up on ammunition at an area Walmart. Two days later, he wrote in his blog long entries on Islam, describing the world as a prison and cautioning, “Don’t be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter and the opportunity to submit to allah may pass you by.”
Just hours before the shooting, he sent a text to a friend with a link to an Islamic verse saying, “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him.”
Yet none of his known writings indicate actual plans for an assault, or the reasoning behind it, leaving investigators still searching for a motive.
Mr. Abdulazeez received a diagnosis of mental illness when he was in his early teens. He was treated with medication in high school and college, but “he wasn’t always good about taking them,” the family representative said. Law enforcement officials confirmed that they too had learned that he had serious psychological problems.
He turned to drugs and alcohol, and family members tried to get him into a rehab program. Despite their fears for his future, they never thought he would become violent, the representative said. In one instance, limits on the family’s insurance coverage thwarted their plan to have him go into rehab.
Despite his troubles, Mr. Abdulazeez graduated in 2012 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He was born in Kuwait, to parents who were from Jordan, but grew up in this area, and was a naturalized American citizen….
He went to work in 2013 at a nuclear power plant near Cleveland, but was fired within days because he failed a drug test, and eventually returned to Chattanooga. He had been served an eviction notice at an apartment he rented near Cleveland for not paying the rent.
Last year, he spent seven months in Jordan, where he had relatives, a trip that remains a focus of the F.B.I.’s investigation with the aid of Jordanian authorities. Investigators want to know whom he met there, and whether someone he came into contact with might have inspired the attacks, or whether daily exposure to news and conversation about the war in neighboring Syria somehow set in motion his deadly planning.
The intelligence official said there was still no evidence that Mr. Abdulazeez was directed or inspired by the Islamic State or any other extremist group, although the official cautioned that forensic testing of his computer and phone, which could yield crucial evidence, was not yet complete….
From Jihad Watch: