Terrorism task force investigating Tennessee shootings

WASHINGTON — Four U.S. Marines were killed as a gunman fired dozens of rounds at two locations — a Navy operational support center (NOSC) and a military recruiting center. The killings took place at the NOSC, often referred to as a “reserve center.” It is used by both Navy and Marine Corps personnel to provide training and readiness support for reserve components in order to support the needs of the services.

The FBI identified the shooter as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, who was also killed. Eyewitnesses told several local media he arrived in a silver, late-model Ford convertible Mustang, with the top down, when he began firing with a high-powered rifle.

Abdulazeez is believed to have come to the U.S. from Kuwait in 1996 with his family. Their home in an upscale part of Chattanooga was later raided by authorities searching for clues.

Shortly after the shooting, law enforcement authorities in Tennessee indicated that terrorism was a possible motive. The FBI initially said, “While it would be premature to speculate on the motives of the shooter at this time, we will conduct a thorough investigation of this tragedy and provide updates as they are available.”

But late Thursday, an FBI spokesperson confirmed the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the shootings. Federal, state and local authorities are investigating; their efforts include monitoring social media.

No nexus to ISIL had been confirmed late Thursday, but in this week’s release of its latest English-language magazine, called “Dabiq,” the leadership claimed responsibility for three attacks on June 26. ISIL called that day “Bloody Friday.” Sixty-six people were killed in those attacks at an industrial site in France, a beach in Tunisia and a mosque in Kuwait. Hundreds were wounded. And in the new magazine, ISIL claims more attacks like those are coming.

The Department of Homeland Security said after the killings it is “closely monitoring the tragic shooting in Chattanooga, and we are supporting the FBI-led investigation.”

Out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the shooting, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “The department is also enhancing the security posture at certain federal facilities.”

“It is with a heavy heart that I learned of today’s tragic events in Chattanooga.  My thoughts and prayers — along with those of the men and women of the Department of Defense — are with the families of those killed in this senseless act of violence and with all those touched by this tragedy, including our Navy and Marine Corps family,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in a statement.

The Pentagon, which has begun the process of counseling the families of those who were killed, has not released their names.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been modified to remove information about a tweet related to the attacks and its timing.

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