This week, the FBI brought in 30 more agents to look into possible connections between international terrorists and a 24-year-old Chattanooga-raised gunman who killed five American troops here.
The New York Times and NBC News, with decades of sources in Washington, D.C., and internationally, are now reporting that the uncle who Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez visited in Jordan has been detained for questioning as investigators continue to seek the motive in last Thursday's attack.
Unnamed officials also have told national news organizations that federal experts looking at Abdulazeez's computer histories have found that in 2013 he had downloaded audio recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni cleric who was a recruiter for al Qaeda. Abdulazeez also had CDs of al-Awlaki's sermons. Al-Awlaki was killed by an American drone strike in Yemen in 2011. The digital records from Abdulazeez's electronic devices and phone also are yielding pages of writing that show the young man was suicidal and looking for a way to absolve what he considered were his sins.
In 2013 Abdulazeez did online research for militant Islamist "guidance" on committing violence, and ABC News reports that earlier this year, Abdulazeez had reposted a professional video about buying an AK47.
We also now know that Abdulazeez — accompanied by two other men — bought ammunition at the Hixson Walmart, and on Monday night the Mountain Creek Road apartment of a friend was searched by the FBI.
Yet investigators continue to say Abdulazeez's motives remains a confusing puzzle. Unraveling that puzzle appears to be complicated by what his family says was a history of depression — something he apparently kept completely hidden from friends and mosque members in Chattanooga who describe him as happy, funny and fun-loving.
Investigators are telling local and national reporters that they are finding no evidence that Abdulazeez was inspired by or directed by ISIS to carry out a bloody attack on U.S. military targets of the sort the Syria and Iraq-based terror group has publicly called for over the past year. One friend, James Petty, told ABC News that Abdulazeez actually loathed ISIS for its brutality. "He believed that ISIS was not a group to go towards" and did not think that "ISIS was even Islamic," Petty said.
Questions remain, but frankly, the investigative outcome won't change this strange new dawn here.
Five men are dead, two are injured. Seven states are moving to arm the "peace" offices of our military facilities, a back-country Alabama sheriff is urging citizens to buy guns to defend against lone wolf attacks and Chattanooga has been brought kicking and screaming into the ugly side of the 21st century.