A lone gunman shot at two military establishments in Chattanooga on Thursday resulting in the death of four US Marines and the gunman.
The shooter, 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, who is of Kuwaiti and Palestinian descent is a nationalized American citizen, who only three years ago graduated from Tennessee State with a degree in engineering.
According to the FBI, there was no indicators to suggest Abdulazeez was a threat. He hosted a blog where he made references for Muslims to submit to Allah, but the word Muslim means someone who submits to Allah.
The FBI performed a search at Abdulazeez’s home after the shooting to try to find what drove him to attack American military establishments.
There have been some people claiming that alternative media sources has stated that Abdulazeez has made references to the Islamic State (ISIS) on his Facebook page. What they references were or what was said has not been released.
ISIS has called for lone wolf attacks by militants against American military personnel and establishments, as well as against government sites, and areas where there will be a high public turnout like at an athletic event. It seems as if Abdulazeez was motivated by ISIS’s call to their warped version of Jihad.
As an American and a Muslim, I want to call this what it is, an act of terrorism. Really it can be claimed that this was an act of war. Abdulazeez identified with the Islamic State’s call to violence against American military personnel. His targets were deliberate. He shot at American Marines, considered the cream of the crop amongst the American military. By shooting at and killing Marines he is trying to make a statement that anyone can be touched at any time.
Due to my unique duality of this latest attack, I am faced with a few dilemmas. How can we further work towards self-monitoring our communities to prevent other tragedies like this? In the mosques that I am associated with, we have given out fliers warning us against these terrorist groups and to report them to local authorities if we come across them.
There is also the dilemma of the radical right-wing on their sites calling for more violent retributive attacks against American Muslims. I have read hundreds of Pamela Geller-like Islamo-phobic comments since the day of the attacks on right-wing websites calling for attacks against Muslims.
What happened Thursday was a tragedy. As soon as I heard about the Marines being killed I thought about my nephew who is serving in the Marines now. He was not in Tennessee, however I am still saddened by the loss of these Marines who paid the ultimate sacrifice because they chose to protect the American citizens.
It was my fellow Americans who were senselessly gunned down by a man who knows nothing about Islam. He did not shoot mutually armed combatants, but the unarmed which is forbidden is Islam. The Qur’an makes it clear that in times of war only mutually armed combatants are to be killed. The unarmed, even if they are military personnel of the enemy are not to be killed.
So how do we get past this?
As long as the Islamic State exists, as well as other terrorist groups, the threat of lone-wolf terrorists will be there. The Islamic State has a slick marketing campaign for young men to make them believe that if they join them they will find honor in fighting. They have been promised wealth and women. A picture they use for their propaganda machine shows a Daa’ishi couple kissing in front of a fiery tank.
The youth are the ones being targeted to join Jihad. Recently the people who have joined Daa’ish in other countries has been between the ages of 14-16. We have not seen these type of numbers yet, but it is something to pay attention to.
Our religious leaders and Muslims in general need to speak about this problem more. I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that most of the Muslims in the USA are foreign-born and do not understand the system. So when they are in their own countries, if they report a terrorist then they are themselves accused of terrorism. I have lived in an Arab country(Tunisia) and I can tell you first hand this is how it works over there.
If someone makes a statement about supporting these groups, it cannot be seen as someone who is misled, they might be past the point of no return. The person needs to be reported. There can be no hesitation in this matter. I do think that there might be some confusion because this group is referring to itself as the Islāmic State and is someone who not only stand up to its oppressors but has their oppressors trembling.
Every time that ISIS is seen taking over another city or has a military victory it is used as a propaganda tool. They have people believing that they are fighting against the system of the anti-Christ and it is the duty of every Muslim to fight the Anti-Christ’s system. Then they use imagery to present the view that they are the Mahdi’s Army, the army of the World’s Savior.
To further complicate matters, you have these right-wingers on the internet—i.e.; keyboard warriors and wannabe internet tough guys—making comments by the thousands talking about exterminating Muslims which only compounds the problem. I can say as a Muslim I feel further alienated living in America because of the speech of these right-wing Tea Party zealots.
When they tell me to go to my country, I am in my country. When a group of bikers can go to a mosque with assault weapons in a threatening manner while drawing images of my religion’s Prophet telling Muslims to do something about it, this will cause feelings of alienation.
ISIS will take advantage of these events to recruit more people.
I do not have an answer on how to prevent acts like this in the future. If someone is speaking to ISIS recruiters online and is planning an event, they are not going to tell anyone unless that other person or people are involved in the plot.
These people know very well that if Muslims knew about this type of activity they would report them to their local authorities and yet we still get blamed.
I started writing for INSCMagazine to make a difference in trying to offer both an authentic and real voice on various issues within both Islam and Muslim society. I have tried to speak about issues about Islam and to speak out against the terrorism. Even though my motive has been good, and I have received a lot of praise, I still get messages from right-wingers telling me I am a liar, or that I am a plant.
They also sat that I do not know what I am speaking about. I have received threats from right-wing Islamophobes. The people who ask why Muslims don’t speak out against the terrorists will turn around and threaten the people who do speak out against terrorism.
This is the world that we live in. There are many people behind keyboards that say things that they would not say in person. They will make threats against others, and then when others read these threats and feel threatened, they in turn retaliate only fueling the already volatile flames online across social media. These keyboard warriors are very dangerous, and they do not even realize it.
Instead of us hating each other, we should learn to love one another. Social media gives us an opportunity and broad platform to discuss how we feel with people from all around the world with completely different ideologies. If we can learn to communicate with each other, and try to understand each other, then perhaps we can stop the hate and instead fill the world with love.
In enabling the likes of keyboard warriors on social media and right-wing Islamophobia, there will be more Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez’s fueled by their antagonistic actions in the future, which will only help ISIS in the long-term.