The Chattanooga shooting – the latest in a string of deadly shootings against the United States military – saw four Marines killed and four guns seized. The gunman, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was killed on scene, but this was by no means the first shooting targeting military personnel.
Sadly, the Chattanooga shooting marks only another in a long string of attacks against the U.S. military. To be sure, the best known attack against military personnel to occur in recent memory would be the 2009 shootings in Fort Hood, but unlike previous shootings, the Chattanooga shooting did not appear to be a shooting motivated by terrorism. A second Fort Hood shooting followed in 2014. In the Chattanooga shooting, Abdulazeez had never been investigated by authorities for any terrorism-related activities, his social media account appears to have been clean, and outside of a DUI arrest in April, he was simply a devout Muslim and a hardworking student who was well liked by those who knew him. His father had been investigated twice for financing overseas charities following the September 11, 2001 attacks, but like others, he was never charged with any crime.
Investigations during the Chattanooga shooting have revealed a dark side to Abdulazeez’ home life, though. According to the Washington Post, the young man’s home life was full of violence. Abdulazeez’ father, according to 2009 court documents, regularly struck his five children. Abdulazeez maintained an online blog where he described his life as a monotonous prison, and he described early followers of Islam as “the best human beings that ever lived.”
The Chattanooga shooting saw four Marines killed, and it appears that a military recruiting station and a Naval reserve office were the prime targets in this case. According to research conducted by New America, more Americans have been charged with involvement in jihadist types of activities in the first seven months of 2015 than in any other year since the 2001 terrorist attacks. However, to lay the responsibility for all shootings that target the U.S. military at the feet of jihadists would be incredibly irresponsible. Mental health issues have also taken their toll. At the Washington Navy Yard shootings in 2013, when Aaron Alexis mowed down 12 people, it was learned that he was not a jihadist, but a deeply troubled young man with a history of mental health problems.
The Chattanooga shooting has also led to fears by military families that their spouses and loved ones, who have lived through a variety of threats in other countries, are now facing danger at home. Sarah Rivette, commentary editor for TheBlaze, asks, “They raise their right hand and swear to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. What good is that promise if they can’t even protect themselves?”
There are security protocols in place on military installations, but recruiting offices generally do not have such security measures in place. The Chattanooga shooting has revealed that it is now perhaps time to put stronger security measures in place so that we can offer our military members further protection at home.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]