The discovery of Chattanooga killer Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez’s diary has given investigators a better look at his past history, and his state of mind at the time he launched his attack on military recruiting and training centers. Blog posts and a text message he wrote shortly before the attack have also provided important clues.
According to an ABC News report about the diary, Abdulazeez wrote about having suicidal thoughts and Islamist “martyrdom” urges as far back as 2013, especially after he lost a job due to his drug abuse. The Wall Street Journal cites a federal official saying that Abdulazeez lost his job at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio, just ten days after he was hired in 2013, because he failed a drug test. This may well be the position he complained about losing in his diary.
A family representative said he abused “sleeping pills, opioids, painkillers and marijuana, along with alcohol.” He was particularly prone to using sleeping pills after taking a job that involved long overnight shifts. The UK Daily Mail says he had been given a prescription for “muscle relaxants because of a back problem.” Toxicology tests on his blood at the time of his death are still pending.
CNN says the family has been telling law enforcement not to treat Abdulazeez’ writings as a “diary of any sort,” and says the writings include “other anti-U.S. sentiments” beyond his displeasure about the lack of American intervention in the Syrian civil war. The authorities seem extremely reluctant to tell us exactly what these anti-American sentiments were. At the time of this writing, virtually every mainstream media account on the diary sources back to that ABC News article, which mentions only his interest in pursuing “martyrdom” after he lost his job.
Three days before the attack, Abdulazeez made two posts to his blog about Islam, which the media has almost universally rushed to assure us were completely innocuous, or perhaps just a wee bit fiery. The SITE Intelligence Group’s description of them makes them sound considerably less innocent:
The July 13 posts stated that “life is short and bitter” and that Muslims should not let “the opportunity to submit to allah…pass you by.” He also stressed the sacrifice of the Sahaba [companions of the Prophet] with mention that they “fought Jihad for the sake of Allah”:
“We often talk about the Sahaba (RA) and their Ibada. We talk about their worshiping at night, making thikr, reading quran, fasting, sala. But did you ever notice that in one certain period towards the end of the lives of the Sahaba (RA), almost every one of the Sahaba (RA) was a political leader or an army general? Every one of them fought Jihad for the sake of Allah. Every one of them had to make sacrifices in their lives and some even left all their wealth to make hijrah to Medina.”
Abdulazeez expressed his desire to reach paradise in the blog, stating that “life is a test of faith.”
SITE goes on to note that, while there has not yet been any firm evidence to indicate Abdulazeez was inspired or directed by ISIS, the Islamic State’s groupies have taken to celebrating him as a martyr, praising his understanding of Islam and jihad, and changing their Twitter avatars to his face.
On the day of the attack, just hours before he opened fire, he sent a text message to a friend linking to an Islamic verse, which reads in full:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Verily Allah ta’ala has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with nafil (supererogatory) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.’ ”
The UK Guardian cites experts explaining that “for jihadists and ultraconservative Salafist Sunni Muslims” – a category that would include ISIS – this verse is generally understood as an expression of love for Islam and “hatred for its enemies.”