Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Tennessee Shooting | Mike McCaul | Chattanooga | shooting | isis

Rep. Mike McCaul Calls Tenn. Shootings an 'ISIS-Inspired Attack'

Rep. Mike McCaul Calls Tenn. Shootings an 'ISIS-Inspired Attack'
(Alex Wong/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Friday, 17 July 2015 07:37 PM

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul Friday called the shootings that killed four Marines and injured three others in Chattanooga "an ISIS-inspired attack" — and he said that the terrorist group has been calling for ambushing military bases and killing personnel and police officers via social media.

The Texas Republican also told reporters at a news conference at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, that federal authorities stopped a "serious" attack planned for New York City on Independence Day that was encouraged by the Islamic State (ISIS).

"My judgment and my experience is that this was an ISIS-inspired attack," McCaul said of the killings at two military recruitment centers by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez. "It has been opened as a terrorism investigation by the FBI, which is a very significant event in this case."

McCaul's news conference was broadcast by WFTS-TV in Tampa.

Abdulazeez, 24, of nearby Hixon, Tennessee, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, was shot to death by authorities after he rammed a gate at the second shooting site, a Naval Reserve Center.

The Marines were killed there. He also wounded three others in the rampage.

Authorities said Friday that they believed Abdulazeez visited Jordan last year and possibly Yemen. He is believed to have traveled to the Middle East, where his family has roots, between April and November 2014.

A trip to Yemen, long viewed as a training ground for Islamic militants, would raise special concern. Two brothers of Algerian descent who led an attack on the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January had visited Yemen in 2011.

McCaul, 53, said that he based his conclusion on his work as a federal prosecutor in Texas and as head of the homeland security panel, which he took over in January 2013. He was first elected to the House in 2004 and also worked for the Texas Attorney General's Office.

"We've seen too much of this traffic," he explained, referring to ISIS posts on social media. "There are too many warning signs. The targets are identical to the targets called by ISIS to attack."

McCaul added that he could not be sure until an investigation was completed and that Abdulazeez's electronic devices were sent to Washington to determine whether they contained any directives from Islamic State terrorists.

FBI agent Ed Reinhold, however, declined to say whether the attacks were fueled by ISIS, only that they were being investigated as terrorism.

"Because the investigation is still in its early stages, it would be premature to speculate on exactly why the shooter did what he did," Reinhold said in Chattanooga. "However, we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine whether this person acted alone or was inspired or directed."

Idaho Sen. James Risch, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also declined to specifically link the shootings to ISIS — instead describing them as "radical Islamist-inspired" to Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

"I am convinced that it was a radical Islamic-inspired attack," he said. "Not so sure that it was ISIS. There is a lot of them. Al-Qaida is still out there."

"This kind of situation is the most dangerous," Risch added. "Because this guy just did not give the signals ahead of time that can be picked up.

"If there is no signals of any kind, no evidence ahead of time, you really can't blame anyone for not picking it up," he said. “And that's pretty much what we had here."

Among the three people injured in the shootings, which come as U.S. military and law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the threat 'lone wolves' pose to domestic targets, was a sailor who was critically wounded.

"To see four of our military personnel, four U.S. marines killed on U.S. soil … is unacceptable — and this fight against ISIS and the terrorists must escalate and we must win," McCaul said. "We must prevail and defeat them."

Regarding the New York plot, the chairman mentioned it as part of an overall roundup of ISIS-inspired activity that has been stopped by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the past year.

"Many of you recall the Fourth of July," he told reporters. "There was a serious plot in New York that the FBI and Homeland Security stopped, but we can only be lucky so many times. We can only stop so much."

"They only have to be right one time, 1 percent, and unfortunately I believe yesterday they were. This will no doubt be proclaimed as a victory by them, but we will have the final word in this war against them," McCaul said.

Overall, authorities have made more than 60 ISIS-inspired arrests in the United States, he said. "We have thwarted over 50 plots against the West."

Law enforcement did not know about the Chattanooga attack, however. "This is the one that we worried about," McCaul said.

Describing the ISIS menace, he later added: "The threat is real, and it comes from the Internet. This is a new generation of terrorists. This is not [Osama] bin Laden in caves and couriers anymore."

"This is what the new threat of terrorism looks like — and it comes from the Internet. It comes out of Syria. It comes from ISIS followers, ISIS recruiters, ISIS operators, out of Syria — with directives into the United States to activate individuals in the United States."

"They don't have to travel to Syria or Iraq; they're already here to activate them to commit acts of terror," he said.

The activity has greatly stepped up in the past six months — and "we've been intensely, intensely trying to stop these directives, these missives from activating individuals in the U.S.," McCaul said.

"These directives call for multiple things, but primarily they call for the attack of military installations in the United States — and they also call to kill military personnel and to kill police officers. We've seen these missives time and time again."

The Islamic State puts out more than 200,000 tweets every day, McCaul said.

"We are trying to monitor them, but the volume and the chatter is so high and so intense that it's hard to get a handle on it," he said. "It's very difficult for the FBI and Homeland Security to stop and disrupt every one of these."

ISIS investigations are going on "in all 50 states," the congressman told reporters.

"They are permeating our society in this country through the Internet and through social media," he said. "It's very, very difficult to stop it — and I believe yesterday, unfortunately, we couldn't."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul Friday called the shootings that killed four Marines and injured three others in Chattanooga "an ISIS-inspired attack" — and he said that the terrorist group has been calling for ambushing military bases...
Mike McCaul, Chattanooga, shooting, isis
Friday, 17 July 2015 07:37 PM
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