Chattanooga shooting investigation reportedly extends to Jordan

The relative of the now-deceased Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was taken into police custody one day after Mr. Abdulazeez opened fire on two Chattanooga, Tenn., military facilities, according to the detainee's lawyer.

Jay Reeves/AP
Flags stand in a make-shift memorial as people gather at the scene of a military recruiting office in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Monday, four days after it was targeted in a pair of shootings that left five people dead. Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked two military facilities, including the career center, last week in a shooting rampage that killed a US Navy sailor and four Marines.

Just one day after Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed four marines and a sailor in a shooting at two Tennessee military sites, his uncle, Asaad Ibrahim Asaad Haj Ali, was placed in custody in Jordan, the detained man’s lawyer alleges.

An official in the Jordanian government confirmed Tuesday that Mr. Abdulazeez's relatives in Jordan are being questioned as part of an investigation into the gunman’s stay in the kingdom. Nevertheless, the official would not elaborate on the details of the inquiry or confirm whether someone is being held in custody. Abed al-Kader Ahmad al-Khateeb, a lawyer for Mr. Ali, says that he is being prevented from visiting his detained client.

The Chattanooga gunman spent several months in Jordan. He family had encouraged the visit in hopes that it would give him time away from drugs, alcohol, and a group of friends his family considered to be a bad influence, according to a family acquaintance.

US authorities are currently trying to understand why Abdulazeez decided to go on a rampage on Thursday that resulted in the death of five US service members. He was ultimately killed by police. Some have speculated that he may have been radicalized by an extremist terrorist group, but no evidence has linked him to Islamic militants.

“Authorities have found no written or video-taped messages from the 24-year-old explaining the attack or pledging allegiance to Islamic leaders overseas. And there is no evidence at this point that he had a state of mind that would compel him to undertake Thursday’s deadly assault on a military recruitment office and training facility,” the Monitor reported Friday.

“Neither the Islamic State group nor other militant groups have claimed responsibility or involvement in Thursday’s ambush, though many militants have hailed him on social media as a martyr.”

To date there is also no evidence that Abdulazeez was influenced by extremists during his time in Jordan. Jordan is one of the most Westernized countries in the Middle East. Alcohol is sold openly in the kingdom, and it has occasionally been called one of the most liberal Muslim countries. Nevertheless, Jordan has also seen the spread of Islamic militant ideas in recent years, primarily following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

Family members have suggested that Abdulazeez’s struggle with depression may have been the reason behind the shooting. 

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.