Tennessee shooter’s uncle detained in Jordan: lawyer
An uncle of the man who killed four Marines and a sailor in attacks on Tennessee military sites has been in custody in Jordan since a day after the attack, a lawyer said Tuesday.
Abdel Qader al-Khatib told The Associated Press he was barred from seeing his client and that family members were also prevented from visiting the detainee. Al-Khatib identified his client as Asaad Ibrahim Abdulazeez Haj Ali, a maternal uncle of the Chattanooga attacker, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
A Jordanian government official said Tuesday some of Abdulazeez’s relatives in Jordan were being questioned as part of an investigation into his stay in the kingdom. He would not elaborate on the probe.
Abdulazeez spent several months in Jordan last year under a mutual agreement with his parents to help him get away from drugs, alcohol and a group of friends his relatives considered a bad influence, according to a person close to his family who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the U.S., authorities are struggling to understand Abdulazeez’s motive. Investigators have described their search through the remnants of his life as a domestic terrorism investigation, but nothing about his comings and goings had caught their attention before the rampage Thursday morning.
A U.S. official familiar with the investigation said investigators have found writings from Abdulazeez that reference Anwar alAwlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in September 2011 and who officials believe played an important role in encouraging and inspiring attacks on the homeland.
However, investigators have said they have not found evidence that Abdulazeez was specifically directed by someone to carry out the attacks.
Adding to the muddled picture, many who knew him described a clean-cut high school wrestler who graduated college with an engineering degree and attended a local mosque.
“Everything seemed fine. He was normal. He was telling me work was going great,” said Ahmed Saleen Islam, 26, who knew Abdulazeez through the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga and saw him at the mosque a few nights before the attacks.
But the person close to the family talked about a darker side of Abdulazeez. He was first treated by a child psychiatrist for depression when he was 12 or 13 years old. Several years ago, relatives tried to have him admitted to an in-patient program for drug and alcohol abuse, but a health insurer refused to approve the expense.
Abdulazeez lost a job at a nuclear power plant in Ohio in May 2013 for what was described as a failed drug test. An April arrest on a charge of driving under the influence was “important” because Abdulazeez was deeply embarrassed and seemed to sink further into depression following the episode, the person said. The family believes his personal struggles could be at the heart of last week’s killings, the person close to them said.