U.S. House Chairman says Chattanooga slayings now officially a terrorism investigation

Law enforcement perch on the rear of an armored vehicle as they prepare at a staging area on Hixson Pike to investigate the nearby home of gunman Mohammad Abdulazeez on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Abdulazeez is the gunman in a shooting at both the Amnicola Highway Armed Forces Career Center and the Naval Operational Support Center on Amnicola Highway which left five dead, including the shooter, and a Chattanooga police officer wounded.

Today's coverage

* DesJarlais plans bill allowing qualified military personnel to carry sidearms at military installations * Who was Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez? * Community grieves, gathers for prayers in wake of tragedy * Timeline of terror in Chattanooga shootings * Cook: On a normal Thursday morning, everything changed * Tragedy will not define us, our city will heal * Shooting shatter's city's sense of innocence

NASHVILLE -- The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee said today the FBI has officially opened Thursday's slaying of four Marines at two military installation's in Chattanooga as a terrorism case.

Chairman Michael McCaul also said one of the weapons used by suspected gunman Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez was an AK-47.

His comments came at a news conference at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

The chairman also said a computer, smart phone and other electronics belonging to the 24-year-old Abdulazeez, who died of gunshot wounds, is now on its way to Washington for forensic examination.

Investigators hope to glean information about possible "foreign direction" the Hixson resident may have had and how the Red Bank High School and UTC graduate had become "radicalized," McCaul said.

Asked whether Abdulazeez had been a "lone wolf" radicalized through the self-styled Islamic State or similar groups, McCaul said, "I think that will come out very shortly" through forensics.

McCaul said that over the past six months, federal officials "have been intensely, intensely, trying to stop" terror attacks in the U.S. One such "serious plot" during the July 4 period was thwarted in New York, he said. Others have as well.

"But we can only be lucky so many times," the chairman told reporters. "They have to succeed just one time."

McCaul said he had previously made plans to be in Tampa Friday to meet with military leaders of the U.S.Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

"Little did I know that terror would strike America in the heartland," he said of the Chattanooga slayings. "What happend yesterday can unfortunately happen anywhere, anyplace."

Groups like ISIS have become quite sophisticated in reaching out to young Muslims through the Internet and social media and the U.S. must do a better job countering those messages, he said.

Reporters from outside Florida were able to listen in to the news conference via a conference call.

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