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Deadly Attack on America's Military. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired July 16, 2015 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The breaking news tonight, the deadly attacks on America's military here on the home front. The FBI is searching for a terror connection. This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Four marines dead and a female soldier seriously wounded in two separate attacks at military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Authorities say the shooter, 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez is also dead. Here's what we know about him. Born in Kuwait with Jordanian citizenship. A naturalized citizen. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012, with a degree in electrical engineering.
Law enforcement officials say it is too soon to know the motive for the fatal rampage. CNN reporters are live in Tennessee for us. Drew Griffin is in Chattanooga. Gary Tuchman is in the suspect's neighborhood in Hixon, Tennessee. Evan Perez is live for us in Washington this evening.
I want to begin with CNN's Drew Griffin. Drew, you just spoke to one of the alleged shooter's coaches. What did he tell you?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: He told me what many have told us all this afternoon, that this person, this Muhammad Abdulazeez was an all-American kid. Even though he was from the Middle East, he basically grew up in the United States, he went to high school here, he was a wrestler, he was a mixed martial arts athlete.
And it was during that time that this fellow met him and knew him and was friends with him in praying in a mosque here with him, up until just a month ago, very nice guy. But I want you to listen to what he told us about a recent trip in the last couple of years to the Middle East that he believes that this suspect, this now dead suspect, took. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALMIR DIZDAREVIC, ABDALAZEEZ MMA COACH & FRIEND: His demeanor that he was obviously nothing on him that would show me that he was upset about something, you know. And I know that he moved out of the country about a year or two ago. He went back home and he stayed overseas. And I asked his dad about, where's Muhammad. I haven't seen him in a while. He said, he moved back home. But I saw him a couple of times when he visited. Now, I'm not one to speculate. But what happens overseas in a certain different environments, I don't know.
GRIFFIN: Where was he overseas and when was he overseas?
DIZDAREVIC: You would have to ask his family about that.
GRIFFIN: You say he went overseas for two years?
DIZDAREVIC: A year or two ago when he actually went back. I think after he graduated into see or so.
GRIFFIN: He went back where?
DIZDAREVIC: Jordan, Yemen, I don't know. I'm not sure which one.
GRIFFIN: You're sure he was in the Middle East?
DIZDAREVIC: Well, that's what I was told.
GRIFFIN: His family knew that?
DIZDAREVIC: So, that's what I was told and that's why I went by.
GRIFFIN: Did you ever talk to him about being in the Middle East?
DIZDAREVIC: Well, I asked him how is everything doing. He said he's teaching kids, he's teaching wrestling and doing, you know. As I said, how are you doing? I mean, is everything okay? He said. I'm doing well. I'm doing real good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: This is a developing story. This is the first we've heard that there may have been recent travel, recent in the last few years, Don, to the Middle East. We're also hearing tonight from sources that legislators have been briefed on the shootout that took place behind me. And I think perhaps tomorrow or in the coming days, we're going to hear about the harrowing, harrowing shootout that the police had here.
Apparently, this suspect was carrying 30 round clips and was actually holding police at bay at one time with the ammunition that he had. Those details are being leaked out now coming through sources. But that is what apparently, the FBI is briefing some of the politicians in Tennessee about what happened just over my shoulder earlier today. Don.
LEMON: Let's talk more about what happened just over your shoulder. You are at the second crime scene. And in the video you shot, we can see the green fence in front of the alleged shooter's car. Can you talk to us more about that?
GRIFFIN: I can tell you that this is the second scene. And it was a little confusing today. The first scene that many people have seen is the front window of that recruiting center that was shootout. That's about eight miles from here. After that shooting, the police chased or this suspect drove those eight miles to this naval operation's center.
You have to actually go down not this big road, but a little inlet road here and down a driveway of about 400 yards before you reach a fence. In his rented Mustang, convertible Mustang, the suspected rammed that fence. That's what you're seeing. He has pushed his rented vehicle right through the front gates of that facility. And it is behind there that the shootout took place where the four marines died and where this suspect was eventually gunned down and killed by police.
[22:04:55] The forensic investigation here is still going on well into the night. It was over that hill behind me. You can't see it right now because it's dark, but just about an hour and a half ago, and there were still dozens and dozens of federal agents coming in the scenes, looking for anything they could find. That even flew a drone over the scene taking pictures, very high res pictures of the scene below. Don.
LEMON: Drew Griffin with what's going on with the scene. And, Drew, thank you very much for that. I want to get to Gary Tuchman now. Gary is in the suspect's neighborhood of Hixon, Tennessee. Gary, as I understand you were close to his house. What's the latest there, what's going on?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, forensic investigation here, too. This upscale, suburban neighborhood north of Chattanooga, is the neighborhood where this gunman spent most of his life. And he lived in a house just behind me, behind this police line. Because right now, we have the FBI and other authorities searching across the street inside the house. They've been there for hours. They said they will be there for hours more. K9 units are inside.
The bomb squad was here, there was a concerned there could be explosives in there possible booby-traps in there. But the bomb squad has left, so obviously -- they are not that concerned anymore because they had cops to several blocks away. We're just two doors down from where they are conducting their search.
It's not clear if the gunman lived there currently. But the neighbors are telling us the family moved in here when he was 7 years old, approximately. He was in first or second grade when he moved here. So, he lived for most of his life. He was a graduate in 2012 of the Chattanooga Campus of the University of Tennessee where he majored in electrical engineering. A couple of months ago, in April of 2015, the gunman was arrested and charged with DWI. He was scheduled to go to court for a hearing on the charge against him two weeks from today. Don.
LEMON: Was he employed?
GRIFFIN: It doesn't appear he was. We do know, based on his resume, that he had a couple of internships after he got out of college. But it's not clear if he had any full time job. Neighbors were talking here, Don, who have known him for many years say he's a really nice kid.
We're talking to one neighbor who has two daughters, who, his two sisters, the gunman's two sisters babysat for his two daughters. And he said, during this baby sitting times, Muhammad would come to their house, to his neighbor. And he said, he was very polite, nice kid. He was totally stunned when he heard this was the person involved in this horrible incident. So, people here, it sounds like a cliche. But everyone we've talk to in his neighborhood who knows the family and knows the gunman say they just can't believe it.
LEMON: Gary Tuchman, close to the suspect's home. Thank you very much for that. Security being beefed up at sites across the country tonight, including right here, in New York City in Times Square. CNN's justice reporter is Evan Perez and Evan joins me tonight with what he knows about this. Evan, as I understand the FBI now considering this a terror investigation. What more are your sources telling you about the shooter?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Don. They're considering this a terrorism investigation. Here's what we know about the suspect, about the shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He was born in Kuwait. He had Jordanian citizenship as well as he became an American citizen, naturalized American citizen along with his family members some years ago.
We're told by officials that now they're pouring through his background because he did not show up in any of the FBI databases that they use to track possible terrorism suspects. But they're also doing, though, is they're looking through the files of the joint terrorism task force just to see if perhaps, in any one of those investigations going on around the country, whether his name turned up.
And certainly by tomorrow morning, before investigators brief the president, they want to be able to ask the question whether there was any sign that he had turned up in any other investigation by the FBI. One tantalizing bit of information that has emerged in the last few hours is investigators have been looking at a couple of blog post that are attributed to someone by the name -- by the same name as a shooter.
And it's an interesting blog because it was only couple of post and it was made just days ago, Don. And in the blog post he discusses his views on religion. And he talks about for someone who believes in Muhammad, the world, the world we live in, is a prison. And for the unbeliever, it's a paradise.
And so, these are some of the thoughts that the writer seems to be illuminating on. And it tracks with a lot of what we hear from fundamentalist views of Islam, Salafi's views. And so, this is something that I know investigators are now looking at. They haven't verified that it is the shooter's blog. But it is something that they're studying to make sure. And along with what we've also reported at the top of the hour here, his possible travels to the Middle East. That is something that is definitely a focus of the investigation. Is there something that happened on those trips that influenced what happened today?
[00:04:57] LEMON: All right. Evan Perez, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Joining me now is Gerald McCormick, the majority leader of Tennessee house. He represents the district that includes Chattanooga. Representative, we appreciate you joining us this evening. As we understand, you just got out of a briefing with homeland security. What can you tell us?
GERALD MCCORMICK, TENNESSEE HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. Well, thank you for having me tonight. We did have a briefing this afternoon with the governor and our legislative delegation. And they told us first of all, that we're lucky to have such a great police department and sheriff's department here in Hamilton County and in Chattanooga. That our police force reacted quickly and vigorously and bravely. They were under a lot of fire from an automatic weapon with a man who had a carload of ammunition and some 30 round clips. So, they did a great job and we're lucky to have them.
LEMON: Yes. And tell me more about -- there was a gun battle, as you were saying, under heavy fires you said and with clips with 30 round clips. Do you know any more about the gun battle? Did they discuss that in this briefing?
MCCORMICK: Well, they discussed it just to say that he was well armed that he was prepared for a battle. And of course, the people just had to react, they weren't expecting it, but they pursued it across town from the first place he had started at the other recruiting station. And then he came to this area right across the street. And they pursued him here and tracked him there. And he pinned them down for a short period of time. And they reacted very well and very aggressively. And, basically, protected the people who were in the area and took out the suspect.
LEMON: Since you just got out of that briefing and it's been our understanding here all day that this young man was not on the radar of authorities in that area at all. Is that still the same information?
MCCORMICK: That's the information I received. He lived in a neighborhood, actually, about a mile from where I live. His family has been here for almost 20 years. I think they were originally from Kuwait. But they've been a part of the community, worked in the community, gone to public schools in the community and they've been very active here.
And I don't think there was any indication that anyone told me about today that he had a -- was a suspect to do anything like this. So, it was a great shocked to the community and we're very sad about it. Chattanooga is a very diverse and thriving community and we had a lot of good people here and we're just shocked and disappointed there's something like this could happen here.
LEMON: Was there any discussion about why this particular recruiting facility, why this military installation?
MCCORMICK: No. I don't think they know at this point why he picked this one out. Knowing where he lives, these are the two closest facilities to his home. So, that may have had something to do with it. I suspect that would be the reasoning behind it from his standpoint. But that's conjecture on my part.
LEMON: What do you tell people there in your district and people who are watching around the world tonight?
MCCORMICK: Well, that Chattanooga is a good place full of great people. And this is a tragic event, one that will live forever in our minds. But we'll move on from it and we'll try to understand it and do better in the future. It's a great place with great people. And we're saddened by this, we're praying for the victims and for the victim's family and we're praying for the perpetrator's family. And we're going to move forward.
LEMON: Representative Gerald McCormick just got of a homeland security briefing and he's giving us the latest information. Thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
MCCORMICK: Thank you very much.
LEMON: We've got much more to come on this breaking news tonight. Security beefed up all across the country including right here in New York City in Times Square in response to the deadly attack in Tennessee. The FBI looking at every possible motive from terrorism to a simple criminal act. I'm going to talk to one of his high school friends and a coach next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Our breaking news tonight here on CNN. The FBI leading the investigation of the deadly rampage in Tennessee today that left four marines dead and a female sailor seriously wounded. Authorities identified the suspect as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
Now I want to bring the man who knew him very well, one of his former MMA coaches. Scott Schrader is his name. He joins me by phone. Mr. Schrader, thank you so much.
SCOTT SCHRADER, FORMER MMA COACH OF ABDULAZEEZ: You're welcome.
LEMON: What can you tell me about Muhammad Abdulazeez?
SCHRADER: He was, I guess it's the typical story. He was a quiet kid, you know, very respectful, nice, came in, worked hard. Honestly, the last person you'd think that would do something like this.
LEMON: You know, we're showing pictures now of the alleged shooter. They're up on the screen. I want viewers to see this video. This is video of the alleged shooter and he is in gray, camouflaged shots here. And he has hair. So, when did you train him? Was it around this time?
SCHRADER: It was when he was 17 years old. He had come in and had, you know, come in with someone else and had just started training. He was a high school wrestler, so he had a little bit of background. Had some natural talent. But other than that, nothing really out of the ordinary about him.
LEMON: So, that brought him in? What brought him in? Him being a wrestler in high school and so he was naturally attracted to this mixed martial arts program? SCHRADER: Yes, that's kind of the natural progression from being a
wrestler to a mixed martial artist.
LEMON: How did he do with it?
SCHRADER: He did pretty well. He went to the North American Grappling Association meet in Atlanta, took silver and I don't remember how he did in that fight that you're showing. You know, we did find out that after it was over, his father was very upset with him that he actually competed. I've asked him if his parents were coming to watch and he told me, no, they were out of the country.
It turns out they were in town and they were waiting for him when he got out of the ring. His father was rather upset. And as he explained to me that he was in Islam his Tehran or forbidden to actually strike anyone in the face. So, that, you know, that his father was pretty upset. And kind of crack down on him and we didn't really seen coming training.
[22:20:05] LEMON: What was his interaction, did you see the interaction between he and his parents that evening or after this?
SCHRADER: Yes. Obviously his father was very, very upset.
LEMON: And there was -- were you there? And what happened?
SCHRADER: Yes. I was actually walking out of the ring when his father stopped and then after that I didn't get too close to that, figure that didn't want him on business.
LEMON: Yes. Did he discuss, because you said, you know, you just don't strike anyone in the face in his father's belief. Did he discuss religion or religious beliefs at all?
SCHRADER: No, honestly, the only thing he ever asked me about is when we were training he would usually train in the afternoon and on to the evening. And about 6 o'clock he'd ask me if he could use our office to pray. And, you know, of course, we told him that was fine. He would go in and pray and when he was done, he'd come back and join training again.
I think it's odd for somebody that would be a, you know, radical Islamist, one of the people that he most often trained with was actually a Russian Jew who actually immigrated maybe a year later to Israel. And that those guys trained together constantly, so.
LEMON: But how long ago did you trained with him did they trained together?
SCHRADER: That's about five years.
LEMON: About five years ago. So, in that time, you don't -- do you have any idea? When was the last time you saw him?
SCHRADER: About five years ago.
LEMON: So, in that time, you don't know what happened? So, were you in contact with him at all?
SCHRADER: None. I had no contact with him after that.
LEMON: So, then your reaction today was one of shock, I'm sure.
SCHRADER: Absolutely shock. Yes.
LEMON: Yes. What do you want people to know about him or the situation?
SCHRADER: What I want people to know is that don't focus on him. There's four dead marines and a wounded sailor and a wounded Chattanooga police officer. You know, he -- whatever, you know, good he might have been earlier in his life, that's gone now. Let's focus on the marines that are dead and their families. And you know, find a hole and bury him anything he had to do with it.
LEMON: Yes. Scott Schrader, former MMA coach to the allege shooter. Thank you.
SCHRADER: Thank you.
LEMON: Now I want to bring in Kagan Wagner. She went to high school with the allege shooter and she joins me now by phone. Kagan, I appreciate you joining me. When you heard the news today, what was your reaction?
KAGAN WAGNER, WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH ABDULAZEEZ: My initial reaction was one of shock, disbelief. There aren't many Abdulazeez in Chattanooga and I just so happen to have been a classmate of the allege shooter and I don't know. At first I didn't really want to believe it, especially with the conflicting report that he was 41, he was 24. But once it was cleared up that he was 24, I definitely knew it was Muhammad.
LEMON: So, you went to high school with him. What was he like?
WAGNER: We went to Red Bank together and he was kind. He was funny. He always had a witty comment be, you know, like class but -- usually smart. Even though he was kind of like a jokester, he didn't let it affect his grades at all. I distinctly remember in the sixth grade, we sit bible history together and in middle school and he was one of the highest grades in the class. He just -- he was a good guy. You wouldn't think that he would do something like this.
LEMON: So, nothing like this.
LEMON: So, I have to -- I want to ask you then because there was -- I want to put up a picture. This is a picture from a high school yearbook. And there is a quote in there and it says, "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" Do you recall that? WAGNER: Yes, I remember that joke in his for his senior quote. It's
ironic now, morbidly so. But at the time, we didn't think anything of it. We just thought it was a joke. You know, of that, you know, being named Muhammad Abdulazeez and living in the south, you know, that's not something that is really going unnoticed.
LEMON: Yes. So, it didn't raise red flags. Did he ever talk about anything like that bothering him that his name may have caused a national security alert or anything of that nature?
[22:24:44] WAGNER: No, nothing like that. In fact, you know, people have asked me today was he a bully, was he ever picked on because of his name or, you know, anything like that. And the truth is, no. He was well-liked. He was popular. He always had friends around him. He never had any issues with being bullied or being at the center of attention because of his name or because of any other, you know, factor or reason. He had it pretty easy.
LEMON: So, Kagan, what happened, what do you think happened?
WAGNER: You know, I don't really know. After high school, you know, we didn't hear a whole lot about him anymore. If he went to -- he went to college with the UTC and he got a degree there. And that's pretty much the last a lot of us had heard about him. You know, it's just -- you know, gossip happened after you graduate. You usually you're like, oh, well, and so and so, had this happened to them. But never happened with Muhammad. He was -- he is -- it just didn't happen. So, I don't know what happened. He's not telling.
LEMON: Did you know his family? Any siblings?
WAGNER: Yes. He had some sisters. I wasn't really close to them. But I had seen them before. And they always seemed like the typical Southern Chattanooga family. Nothing really set out. They were well-involved, you know, with each other and they cared about each other. I know he was close to his sisters. But other than that, nothing else really stood out about him.
LEMON: Have you spoken to other people who knew him, any classmates, any of his friends if any?
LEMON: What are they saying?
WAGNER: All the same thing. It's just a wave of disbelief of shock. I can't believe that, you know, this person who a lot of us grew up with would do something like this. Most of it is just absolute shock and confusion.
LEMON: Do you know if his family is still around?
WAGNER: I have no idea. You know, I checked on his sister's Facebook page today and it was silent. It was quiet. So, as far as I know, they all still live in Chattanooga. But I don't know what's going for them today. And I imagine that it's probably very difficult and, you know, my prayers go with them, as well as the families of those who have been hurt and who have been killed.
LEMON: Kagan Wagner went to high school and knew the allege shooter. Kagan, thank you.
WAGNER: Thank you for having me.
LEMON: We're going to be right back with more on our breaking news. A deadly rampage in Tennessee that killed four marines and left one female sailor seriously wounded.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] LEMON: A breaking news. Four marines dead and a sailor seriously injured in twin attacks in Tennessee today. The FBI Saying they're looking at every possible motive from terrorism to a simple criminal act.
Let's discuss now Juliette Kayyem, former homeland security assistant secretary. Also with us is Philip Mudd, a former CIA counter terrorism official, Buck Sexton is with us as well, an ex-CIA agent and national security editor for The Blaze, and Stuart Kaplan, a former FBI agent.
I want to thank all of you for joining us. I want to say there is going to be -- just getting where there is an FBI press conference that is going to happen at the top of the hour. So, we will carry that for you live.
So, you guys may be sticking around to help us debrief after we get a -- after we have that FBI press conference. If you have time in your schedule. But, Juliette, let's start with you. You know, we don't know the answer yet. But the question everyone is really asking is, they want to know if this is some sort of terror attack that has to do with Jihadists, ISIS committed here on U.S. soil.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: I think we don't know the exact answer yet. I think all we can do is look at the evidence which suggests, yes, at this stage. A guy, who others have said, had become radicalized whose the last two years or sort of if he in the timeframe of his life. Who had an otherwise, normal, sort of not surprising life and then something like that that he plans and conducts.
So, we don't need to call it anything right now, actually. I mean, I think in terms of the investigation, we should just see where all the evidence leads. But in terms of what we know right now, this looks like a typical case in some ways, someone becoming self-radical or radicalized through the internet and someone willing to die to kill U.S. soldiers.
LEMON: Yes. And as we know it is being investigated as an act of terror. We just don't know, you know, what connection he may have to other things. So, Phil, you know, one of the wrestling coaches spoke today and said that Muhammad had gone overseas either Jordan or Yemen. That's obviously very significant if it is true. Can you elaborate on that?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sure, I think you should look at one simple question in this case, Don, and that is people. Typically, in these situations, we talk about internet radicalization. We talked about what images somebody is seeing for example, transmitted by ISIS. My experience in this case is there's a simple fact that you've got to understand.
The speed with which somebody goes from a normal high school or college kid to murdering people, as we saw today in Chattanooga, that speed is accelerated by somebody an individual, maybe he met him overseas in Jordan or elsewhere. Maybe met him in some internet chatroom who persuade somebody like this within an emotional persuasion that the murder of innocent is acceptable.
We are going to discover, I predict, that someone was helping this person down a path of radicalization. He may have committed the act alone, he did not commit the act of radicalization alone.
LEMON: Hey, Buck, are you convinced that this was religiously motivated or could it be something else altogether?
BUCK SEXTON, THE BLAZE NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I'm absolutely convinced that this was both a terrorist attack an active Jihad. I mean, this would be beyond a reasonable doubt standard already based on what we know. And this is being investigated as terrorist attack because it is a terrorist attack just based upon the actions that took place earlier today.
Look, Don, I was on CNN just a few days ago, talking about an arrest of an individual who was a lone wolf who had radicalized in Massachusetts. He tried to buy firearms. We missed exactly what happened today just a few days ago because of some good work by the FBI. This sort of thing is happening time and again and follows a very familiar pattern.
[22:34:59] And we're asking a lot of law enforcement in this country to be right every time. This is like asking the goalie to make endless says. This was terrorism, it is an active Jihad and I think it's time for all of us to be very clear on the fact that if our defense against this is going to be hoping that the FBI is able to stop.
As Phil just said before, the process from radicalization Jihadization is very quick. This individual seems to have had some decent offset. He wasn't very loud about his intentions to do this, at least loud enough to get caught before he could do it. And this is now showing us that it's impossible to expect perfect law enforcement action to prevent this kind of Jihadist attack.
LEMON: Do you agree, Stuart, that it is indeed, terror and that's a Jihadist attack?
STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: Absolutely. I mean, and I go back to what I've said in the past. Post 9/11, we were so concerned about people coming into United States and doing harm. I think this is a perfect example and this is certainly another wakeup call where we really have to be concerned about those individuals that go about their everyday lives and blend in and then get a hold of a weapon, an assault weapon, and can really reign tremendous havoc.
And I think that this is a perfect example of why local and state and federal law enforcement must work seamlessly to share information and really try to crack down on these individuals that spend their times behind a computer on social media. The world is a very, very small place right now.
LEMON: But you're talking about resources now. So, how does this indeed, this is indeed change the resources that will end the investigation if it is indeed, as in your estimation this is Jihad and a terrorist attack?
KAPLAN: The problem is, you have less 15,000 sworn special agents with the FBI. You have local and state law enforcement and they are really the boots on the ground day in and day out. They are the ones who are interacting with the members of the community. And I think part of what local law enforcement has to do is really come on board and share that information that they picked up by human intelligence and be able to provide that information to the state and federal level.
So that, perhaps and I will tell you that there is no doubt that there are individuals out there, whether it's his family or friends or associates, who had some sense that this individual was going off in a different, you know, pattern. And I'm sure in hind sighted being 20/20, now you're going to find out that someone just decided that they weren't going to speak up and say something.
LEMON: All right. I see you guys nodding your heads. We're going to take a quick break and come back and speak with you. I want everyone to stay with me. We've got a lot more to talk about this breaking news. A deadly rampage in Tennessee that left four marines dead. And we're waiting for that news conference with the Justice Department and the FBI. We're going to bring that to you. That's at the top of the hour. That one is schedule to happen. We'll bring it to you when it happens.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Well, here's the breaking news. Security beefed up all across the country in response to the shooting rampage in Tennessee that left four marines dead and a sailor seriously injured. We're going to bring you a live press conference at the top of the hour. We're expected to get it from the FBI at the top of the hour. And we'll bring that to you right here on CNN, so you won't miss it.
Let's bring the panel back in. Back now with Juliette Kayyem, Philp Mudd, Buck Sexton, and Stuart Kaplan. So, where did we leave off? Juliette, I think my question -- my next question is to you. How do we know that this was, in fact -- because you hear the other panelists saying I know it was Jihad. I know that, you know, it had to do with its terror. So, how do we know, in fact, that this is a lone wolf attack or if some others were involved maybe?
KAYYEM: We don't know that yet. And, you know, in the first hours after the attack the primary goal of any law enforcement on the ground was had to be let's make sure that he doesn't have any friends or he hasn't been talk -- communicating with the people in other states or other cities. And that's the primary goal is you save as many lives as possible.
So, we have no idea at this stage. Now, lone wolf is term that people sort of throw around and sort of say, oh, he's acting lone wolf. Simply means someone who's not part of an organized terrorist organization like the old days of Al Qaeda and someone who is radicalized and is actually sort of deciding at what stage they're going to deploy a terrorist attack.
In other words, it's not sort of an overseer. And so, this person could have been communication with people in the U.S. or outside of the United States. But his decision to move forward at that moment may have very well been, you know, either because it was related to Ramadan or just work or he felt like doing it today. And that, those are the pieces that we're going to fit together. So, I'm not convinced that he was alone, but I don't think we know enough details at this stage about who he may have been connected with.
LEMON: Can you take forward a little bit, Phil Mudd, because I'm at 11 p.m. Eastern Time, right. I'm wondering why the FBI, the Department of Justice, TBI, which is the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and of course U.S. Senator Bob Corker beholding at 11 p.m. Eastern Time briefing. Why such a late -- what might we hear here?
MUDD: There's a couple things you're going to do immediately. Let me pick up on what Juliette said. You're going to access all the social media, his e-mail. You're going to be talking to friends and family immediately. The first question you're going to ask is, did he operate independently. I'm sure the bureau will talk about this shortly. They've got to start talking about whether there's a further conspiracy. We need to think about.
I think the answer almost certainly is going to be no. So, they're going to try to assure people that the initial messages he operated alone. The second question obviously is why he did what he did. Was this terrorism? Was the motivation political? I think as a former practitioner, the answer is easy yes.
He hit targets that are clearly identifiable as military. He was saying things on blogs that look like they're affiliated with him that were political. So, I think they'll answer those questions initially of conspiracy, secondarily of motivation. And I think they're going to want to tell people our initial indications are that he acted alone.
LEMON: Hey, buck, I have to run quickly but I want to ask you of copycats. What's the concern here?
SEXTON: Well, let's keep in mind that there was an attack in 2009. That was very similar, it was against and Arkansas recruiting station and so, in a sense, this is a copycat of that attack. But there will be follow on strikes exactly like this.
[22:44:58] This is part of an ISIS strategy, Don, for people to radicalize on their own and to attack in their homeland in the west, in Europe, in the U.S. They don't need anyone to tell them from above that this is what they have to do. They just need to attack certain targets. Military and police targets by the way have been on the top of ISIS' list now starting from the beginning of the year. And individuals are going to answer that call to Jihad on their own and that's what we're seeing happening.
LEMON: And so, that's why they're beefing up security and especially here in Times Square and all across the country.
KAPLAN: No question about it. But, again, as I've said, during the July 4th weekend, it could happen anywhere within the United States. It doesn't have to be at major city.
LEMON: OK. All right, everyone. Standby, everyone. Coming up, more on our breaking news. A rampage that left four marines dead and a female soldier seriously injured. We're going to dig deeper into the shooter's background and a possible motive. And we're waiting for that news conference from the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, as well. We're going to bring that to you when it happens.
LEMON: Breaking news tonight. Twin attacks on military sites in Chattanooga leave four marines dead. The FBI Leading the investigation. They say they're looking at every possible motive from terrorism to a simple criminal act.
Joining me now is Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst and co- author of "Agent Storm." Also with us is Mubin Shaikh. A Jihadist turned undercover counterterrorism operative. He is the author of "Undercover Jihadi"
[22:45:10] Gentleman, thank you for joining me tonight. Paul, you first. We still don't really know a motive here. A lot of people are guessing a motive here. But we don't know for sure. But today was the last day of Ramadan. What's the potential significance of that to today's deadly rampage?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, "AGENT STORM" CO-AUTHOR: Well, the potential significance, Don, is that ISIS called for a surge in terrorism during Ramadan. They issued a fact were saying that followers in west would get 10 times more rewards in the afterlife if they carried out an attack during the Ramadan period. So, clearly, there may be some significance with the timing here. Jihadi is also I believe that is the very last stretch of Ramadan, the rewards for this kind of operation can go up exponentially.
LEMON: So, the fact that it was a military target, what's the significance of that?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, again, Don, ISIS have been calling for attacks on military targets in the United States. We've seen a string of ISIS inspired plots over the last few months in the United States which the FBI have thwarted against military facilities. In France, just on Monday, they called a terrorist plot to target military facilities. ISIS are singling out western militaries for attacks. They're calling for these lone wolf attacks against those targets.
LEMON: Yes. So, moving, you know, CNN has spoken to some of his neighbors. Also spoke to a coach. One of the neighbors is a high school friend. By all accounts, it seems like he was a pleasant guy. He was quiet. Said he was very smart. Also devoted Muslim. If he was radicalized, take us through the process. How does that happen?
MUBIN SHAIKH, JIHADIST TURNED UNDERCOVER COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIVE: Yes, first of all, devoted Muslims in Ramadan don't shoot places up. That's important to note. I think you'll see that he became frustrated in his life. When he talks about the blog post, he quotes a well-known tradition of the Prophet Alayhi As-Salaam where he says, (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever. And this is usually used when people feel frustrated. They feel they're Locked in. So, I think you'll start to see maybe he had problems at work. He wasn't feeling like it was doing it for him. So, this is, again, like polishing and consistent with what ISIS has called on to attack uniformed personnel. He could have attacked civilians. He didn't. So, I think it's important to look at also why he selected that target.
LEMON: Let's talk about some other reformist as we said we've been speaking to neighbors. And our Drew Griffin has also been reporting that he went -- that this guy went to the Middle East just a couple of years ago. And he came back to Tennessee. Does that raise a red flag for you, Mubin?
SHAIKH: You know, it's hard to say. People go back all the time. You never really know. I mean, it could have been for maybe he was looking to get married. Maybe he fell into, you know, people that he was related to that may be extreme. It's really hard to say just on the basis of one trip.
LEMON: You know, we have some new video, Paul. And this is a -- and I showed it to his coach. This is him in an MMA fight. He is the guy -- he's the one with hair. He's wearing the gray, camouflage shorts. The older son, Nayeb brother, was also into MMA. Is there any sort of connection, any significance to that?
CRUICKSHANK: I don't think there's any connection between MMA and people becoming radicalized. I think this sort of shows that he was sort of part of mainstream society. Friends of his, talk about how he fit in, how he was popular within MMA circle. Apparently, he was training with somebody who was Jewish for quite a few years.
So clearly, it would appear that a certain point his views sort of changed that he became radicalized. And because you have this sort of personal grievances, it would seem against America. He had a pretty good life in America. What you're left with is the idea that he may have been religiously brainwashed. That he may have come to believe that it was his religious duty to do this. And that by doing this that he would get rewards in the afterlife, big
rewards in the afterlife. Not just for him, but also the Jihadist's preach for your whole family. That has been an extraordinary powerful motivation for almost all of these lone wolf style attacks in the west. Of course, we don't yet know for sure the motivation in this one.
LEMON: And you know, and it's tough --this next question it may seem odd because a lot of people are supporting beards lately, right? It is the sort of in-trendy thing to do. But there is some earlier photographs where he isn't supporting a beard and then later photographs where he is. Is that significant? Either one of you can answer that.
[22:55:01] SHAIKH: I'm going to say by itself, it's not significant. But when you add it with other aggravating factors, some kind of grievance or some kind of commitment to ideology, then it becomes a problem.
LEMON: OK. Paul and Mubin, thank you very much. I want you guys to standby because we're waiting a news conference with the Justice Department and the FBI in Chattanooga. We're going to bring that to you when it happens. It's scheduled to happen in just a few minutes.
LEMON: We're back with our breaking news here in CNN. I need to tell you we're just moments away from a news conference here on CNN from the FBI and also from the Department of Justice. And Senator Bob Corker expected to hold a press conference.
It is on this deadly shooting that took place in Chattanooga today at two different sites. The gunman here, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He's a 24-year-old U.S. National from Jordan. Also, we're getting some new reporting on him. And what we're hearing is that this is a place of course, a two different sites in Chattanooga.
First, the gunman strayed bullets into a glass -- into glass doors at a military recruiting center. That was a strip mall and then he went to a naval reserve center, traveled there seven miles away. Four victims in this again. There are four marines and then there is a female sailor who is in very serious condition. The marines are dead.
[23:0:02] The press conference will happen shortly here on CNN. It's the top of the hour now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
LEMON: It is 11 p.m.