July 27

Were the Chattanooga Shootings a Terrorist Attack?

There are two things Americans hate: terrorists and shootings. Pro gun owners do not like when shootings happen because it gives sane gun users a bad reputation, and helps the anti second amendment movement. Everyone does not like shootings because it takes away that sense of peace that we are so fortunate to have in most areas in America. All Americans do not like terrorists, as it again spreads fear, and attacks our country and the value of our citizenship.

So, with this background, why was there not more outcry over the Chattanooga shootings? President Obama ordered flags to fly half staff a whole five days after the shooting happened, and many have shown this to be another example of why there should be gun control (even though the Marines shot would have been able to defend themselves if they were allowed guns).

The shooter was Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He first shot while driving by a military recruitment center, then went to a naval reserve center. Four Marines were killed immediately, along with a Navy sailor two days after the event. A police officer was wounded, but survived. Sources say the incident is still “under investigation,” but what is known is the background of Abdulazeez.

Although Abdulazeez is a “naturalized American citizen,” he was born in Jordan, but is primarily Palestinian. Abdulazeez’s father was placed on the terrorist watch list years ago on “suspicion of donating money to an organization suspected of being a terrorist front.” What we know about Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez is that he had seen a child psychologist, and was on medication at the time of the shooting for depression. He also had a drug and alcohol problem. Since 2003, he traveled to Jordan five times.

Although the FBI believes this not to be a terrorist attack, Abdulazeez had been visiting Friday prayers at a mosque more regularly, and wrote in his diary often about the oppression of life, and the absolution of your sins from martyrdom as believed by Muslims. Furthermore, there were CDs downloaded on his computer that were videos from an al-Qaeda recruiter.

So, was this a terrorist attack? While it is hard to know as Abdulazeez is dead, the clues are that it possibly could have been on a smaller scale.  Killing yourself in the name of Islam is not a new phenomenon, and is the reason for so many terrorist attacks across the world. While he may have been unstable and depressed, this might have been a bigger reason for him to commit the shootings. He may have felt like there was no hope for the future, that his past was two dark, and that a way out was through dying in the name of Islam.

As ISIS continues to grow and as their dedication to spreading Islam increases, there may be more acts of terror. This has nothing to do with gun control, but more with the nature of radical Islam and the belief that martyrdom gives you everlasting life. Some Muslim leaders have spoken out against this violence, and urged all religions to speak against this. But unfortunately, certain groups believe that violence is the only answer.