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THE SITUATION ROOM
Homeland Security Chairman Calls Attack 'ISIS-Inspired'; Friends and Former Coaches of Gunman Speak out; Interview with Sen. Angus King; FBI Looking at Gunman's Electronic Devices; Interview with Representative Peter King. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 17, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news. Attack investigation. The FBI says it's probing the killing of four U.S. Marines in that Chattanooga, Tennessee, attack as an act of terrorism as new information emerges about the shooter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was clear that this gunman had every intent to encounter and to murder police officers if he needed to.
BLITZER: Officials are searching his computers right now. They're digging into his background. Did he act alone? Inspired by ISIS? The head of the U.S. Homeland Security Committee said he thinks the shooter was in fact motivated to kill by one of the world's most feared terror groups. Was he radicalized online or overseas?
Missed signals. Investigators are now looking closely at online postings and the gunman's trips to the Middle East to see if there might have been clues to his plan. Could a recent DUI arrest have been part of the motive?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in "THE SITUATION ROOM".
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER (on camera): We're following the breaking news. The FBI now says it's investigating the deadly attacks on two U.S. military centers in Chattanooga as an act of terrorism.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
BLITZER: You can hear some of the gunshots in this new video that is just now emerging. A flurry of new details also emerging, including the weapons -- yes, weapons -- used by the gunman, 24-year-old Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez who officials now say was killed by police gunfire. We're learning about information about trips he made to Jordan and Kuwait, a DUI arrest just months ago, and allegations against his father of domestic violence. All of it leading a top U.S. lawmakers to conclude the attack was in fact, inspired by ISIS. We're covering all the angles of the breaking news this hour with our
guests, including Senator Angus King; he's a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. And our correspondents, they're standing by in key locations as well.
Let's go to Chattanooga first, though. CNN's Victor Blackwell is there. He's getting new information. What's the latest you're hearing from local investigators, Victor?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, let's show you what they're doing. For a second night, FBI teams are working to collect every piece of evidence inside and outside of this army and military recruiting center that was riddled by bullets. That's what we're seeing.
But what we're hearing from the FBI is that they are investigating 70 leads in this case that they've received so far. Although, of those leads, and from their investigation, there is no indication that there is anyone else, any terror group, or any connection to ISIS in this investigation thus far. But, we are learning from the Chattanooga police chief, Fred Fletcher, details about what happened as they came in contact with 24-year-old shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez and how this all ended. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF FRED FLETCHER, CHATTANOOGA POLICE: Immediately after those reports of gunfire, officers began searching and located the gunman driving down the highway. Chattanooga police officers immediately began following and chasing that vehicle between the first and second locations. Eventually, officers encountered the suspect at the second location. That suspect soon made his intent, his cowardly homicidal intent, clear. Officers of the Chattanooga Police Department did not hesitate. They engaged that person, that gunman, immediately, aggressively.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: We also learned that he had two long guns, a handgun, and a weight bearing vest. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Victor, I want to show our viewers this picture, the bodies of the four U.S. Marines now being brought to Dover Air Force Base for formal, formal ceremonies. It's a very, very important, but somber scene as we're watching it. We're going to continue to show you this.
But, Victor, the FBI special agent in charge also said this about the weapons, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been. We will examine that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: What else did the law enforcement officers reveal about the gunman's weapons? There were several of them and were pretty sophisticated.
BLACKWELL: Yes, they were described as long guns, either a rifle style. We've heard descriptions of an a AK-47 style semiautomatic rifle or a shotgun style and a hand gun. Also we've known that there were 30 round magazines that he had as well.
[17:05:02] And there's this weight bearing vest that could have held more ammunition.
What we do not know, Wolf, is exactly when these four Marines who were shot, when they were killed in this chronology. We've heard from the chief of the police here when they initially started to follow, to chase, Muhammad Abdulazeez in this vehicle, and there was one officer shot. He described being dragged out of the way. But in this chronology, no clear indication of when the Marines were shot. And the FBI agent who is in charge of the investigation here said that, quote, "still trying to figure that out". Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Victor, stand b0. We're also learning more about the gunman, Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez -- his family and a recent address. CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, you're getting new information?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Tonight, investigators tell us they're still trying to determine if Abdulazeez acted alone, whether he was inspired or directed by anyone. We have learned that, growing up, there were some truly dark moments with Abdulazeez's family which belied an outward appearance of happiness and normalcy.
TODD (voice-over): Images of a young man seemingly full of contradictions. As a boy, happily posing with his younger sister. And this high school yearbook picture with a chilling quote, "My name caused national security alerts. What does yours do?" Back then he was as a funny kid, witty, well liked. Later, he got involved in mixed martial arts, an aggressive fighter in the rink. Contradictions but few clues as to why Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez would target two military sites and kill four Marines.
SCOTT SCHRACHER, ABDULAZEEZ'S FORMER MMA COACH: There were tears in my eyes. He was one of the nicest kids that we trained there.
TODD: His martial arts coaches, along with his high school wrestling coach and several friends, have spoken to CNN. They describe Abdulazeez as hard-working, jovial, with a great sense of humor.
KEVIN EMILY, ABDULAZEEZ'S HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING COACH: He was very polite, very kind. And he was humble in high school.
ALMIR DIZDAREVIC, ABDULAZEEZ'S FORMER MMA COACH: I mean, that kid never frowned. He always smiled, he always shook my hand. How are you doing? I never heard him cuss.
TODD: Friends say he came from a seemingly happy, well-adjusted family. But a 2009 divorce complaint filed by Abdulazeez's mother alleged that his father, Youssuf Abdulazeez, repeatedly beat her ,once show severely that she, quote, "fled the marital home and went to a crisis center." The complaint said the father was occasionally physically and verbally abusive toward their five children. The divorce case was dismissed. The couple is believed to still be married.
Abdulazeez and his family are said to be devout, but not radical. One coach said he'd often interrupt practice to pray. That coach says after one martial arts match, Abdulazeez's father was upset.
SCHRACHER: A friend of his father told us that he was -- it was wrong in Islam to strike another person in the face.
TODD: But for this devout Muslim, a DUI arrest in April of this year, the officer reporting Abdulazeez smelled of alcohol and marijuana and had a white powdery substance under his nose. Abdulazeez claimed it was crushed caffeine pills he'd snorted.
Abdulazeez worked for a short time at a magnet and wire company, Superior Essex, after getting an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Jordanian government sources tell CNN he visited his uncle in Jordan last year. Still, there are no tangible clues on what might have turned Muhammad Abdulazeez into a killer.
DIZDAREVIC: There was absolutely nothing on him that would show me he was upset about something.
TODD (on camera): But a close friend said Abdulazeez changed after spending time in the Middle East, that he, quote, "distanced himself" for the first few months after returning. That friend, Abdul Razah Grazadah (ph), told CNN's investigative unit that, after that trip, Abdulazeez never got close to him like he'd been before. And he said, quote, "I'm sure he had something that happened to him overseas."
Wolf, that trip to Jordan last year is a key focus for investigators.
BLITZER: Yes, they're investigating that seven months apparently he spent in Jordan last year. There were other recent signs, though, Brian, as you know, of a deeper devotion to Islam that his friends are talking about.
TODD: That's right, Wolf. A neighbor says Abdulazeez had recently grown a large beard. And there is also a blog that has been discovered. It was dated three days before the shooting and it encourages readers to follow Islamic leaders who fought in jihadist wars. And there's a quote saying, "Life is short and bitter." It is authored by a user called "M.Y. Abdulazeez" but investigators have not formally confirmed that it belonged to the gunman.
BLITZER: All right, a lot of suspicion that it did, in fact. All right, thanks, Brian, very much.
While the FBI investigates the attack as an act of terrorism, one top U.S. lawmaker says all signs do, in fact, point to a chilling conclusion. Listen to what the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul, says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: We've seen too much of this traffic. There are too many of the warning signs. The targets are identical to the targets called by ISIS to attack. So my judgment, in my experience, is that this was an ISIS- inspired attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:10:05] BLITZER: Our justice reporter Evan Perez is also working the story for us. Evan, you've been talking to your sources. What are they saying? Are they going as far as the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who has concluded personally that this was an act at least inspired by ISIS?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: They're not ready to go there yet, Wolf. They've been looking at all the same things and probably more than what the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee has been looking at. But they're not ready to conclude that yet. They say there's -- it's certainly on the table, but there's nothing that jumps out at them that indicates that he was inspired or directed to do this by anyone other than himself.
Now, the key part of this investigation is going to be taking place in Jordan. We know the FBI is going to be going there; they're going to be trying to interview this uncle to try to see if there's any association, perhaps anybody he was with during that key period, those months that he spent there, that might explain what happened here.
Another part of this investigation is going to -- is also going to be focusing on the weapon and who might have helped him obtain those weapons. At least one of them might not have been legally, and so we might end up seeing a prosecution there. Those are the two parts of this investigation that are very much active right now.
BLITZER: What else are you learning about why this masked murder was not apparently on any U.S. watchlist or terror list or no fly list or anything along those lines?
PEREZ: He's very much the classic lone wolf is in the sense that he did not -- he did not show any signs that would have been picked up by the FBI. The FBI has hundreds of people that it's keeping an eye on who may, because of what they're doing online or because of things that they've said perhaps to others, have indicated some perhaps thoughts about doing something like this. This guy did not do that. Those blog posts are something definitely they're looking at. That -- if you look at what he's writing in there, if it indeed is his, it talks a little bit in fundamentalist terms about Islam, but it doesn't really fit the mold of what we've seen in some of these attackers in the past. Wolf.
BLITZER: And that -- those two blogs, if in fact he did write those two blogs, were done only days before this attack. All right, Evan Perez, thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. We're watching the breaking news. Joining us is the Independent senator from Maine, Angus King. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Glad to be here, Wolf. A tough case on all fronts. More questions than answers right now.
BLITZER: That's certainly true. But I know you've been looking into this together with your staff. What can you tell us? What have you learned about Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez's plans? For example, as far as how long he was plotting what was going on, other related information?
KING: Well, there's no -- I haven't had a briefing -- well, I did have a briefing an hour ago but not on these kinds of details. I think there's a lot of focus, as you suggest, on this trip to Jordan. He was there for seven months. Jordan is a relatively peaceful country in the Middle East, but there are known ISIS and al Qaeda radicals there. He could have easily fallen under their influence.
You know, this is the tough case. The FBI has made something like ten arrests in the last two weeks of people involved in these kinds of plots. But the problem is, you know, if you did the percentages, they were over 90 percent successful. But we still have four Marines dead. That's the problem with trying to keep track of these essentially lone wolves that don't give us any signals, that aren't writing on Facebook that they want to do jihad and those kinds of things. These are the toughest cases of all.
And we're still trying to get to the bottom of whether he was directed -- I think the key two words that you've used are "directed" or "inspired". Directed would mean that ISIS or some other radical group picked him up on Facebook or some social media as a potential recruit and then got in touch with him, perhaps in an encrypted way offline. We don't know that. Or was he just responding to the kind of general, I call it a terrorist APB. We don't know that yet.
But these are the hardest cases to deal with. We can disrupt a case where there's a plot and there's communications and plans and all those kinds of things. But if somebody just decides they're going to go out and commit a violent act -- you know, the guy down in Charleston, nobody knew that he was going to do such a thing -- those are the hardest ones for law enforcement.
BLITZER: Or was he instructed and trained to do something while he spent those seven months last year, for example, in Jordan, as you correctly point out? They're really spending a lot of time investigating together with Jordanian authorities. There's a very close U.S. intelligence law enforcement military cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan. We'll see what happens on that front. [17:15:02] Senator, we have a lot more to discuss. I want to take a
quick break. Much more with Senator Angus King right after this.
BLITZER: We are following the breaking news. The FBI now revealing new details of the attack by a gunman on two U.S. military centers in Chattanooga that left four Marines dead. That case is now being investigated as an act of terror.
[17:20:08] We're back with the independent senator, Angus King of Maine. He's a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee.
Senator, the chairman, as you know, of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Mike McCaul, is a very serious guy. He says that, based on his experience, this attack was, in fact, ISIS- inspired. At least ISIS-inspired. What information do intelligence have -- intelligence officials have about what may have happened, if in fact, they're reaching that conclusion?
KING: Well, I don't think Chairman McCaul was saying necessarily there was intelligence to that effect. I think he was looking at the overall picture. And also I noted he particularly said we do know that there were ISIS plans or plots or suggestions, if you will, over the last month to do just this kind of thing.
And I think that is what he was really saying. I know of no specific intelligence, at least at this point, that connects this guy to ISIS or any other -- any other particular group. I do think...
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt, Senator, for a second. Let me interrupt for a second. Because U.S. intelligence officials for weeks have now been saying that they believe, during the closing days, especially of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, there would be attacks and that there would be attacks against U.S. military targets. It's one of the reasons the U.S. military just before July 4th went on a higher state of alert.
KING: Well, that's -- and that's what Chairman McCaul was referring to. And I don't disagree with that. The circumstantial evidence certainly points to this being that kind of attack. Whether there is a direct connection between this fellow and ISIS, I think, is what we don't have yet, or some other radical group.
Remember, there are -- there are hundreds of these different groups. ISIS is the one that we know the best. But there are other groups out there that are trying to foment this kind of activity in this country.
So I don't disagree with the chairman's conclusion. But I don't -- I don't think that he would assert there is specific intelligence on this. But it certainly looks that way. I don't disagree with that at all.
BLITZER: Abdulazeez, he wasn't apparently on the radar of U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, FBI, but he did have a blog in recent days talking about jihad. In one of his blogs, he wrote, and I'm quoting him, he said that "The event we've most worried about," he said that there were these kinds of events that would be good for jihad and for Islam. What do you make of that?
KING: Well, that's -- that's the kind of signal that the FBI is looking at. And as I mentioned earlier, they made about a dozen arrests. I think ten, actually, over the last several weeks, based on a variety of kinds of evidence.
And that -- this points up, I think, something important, Wolf, that I haven't heard mentioned. One of the issues -- and now that we're on alert and on notice that this is something that we're facing, I believe we need to talk about a more focused effort here in the U.S.
We've got the FBI. We've got the counterterrorism center. We've got the fusion centers around the country. We've got the Department of Homeland Security. And I think there has to be a central focus of somebody that's in charge of dealing with this kind of threat. When everybody's in charge, nobody's in charge. And I think that's one of the things that this issue points out.
This is a classic case where there has to be close coordination with local law enforcement, as well as people that are watching the social media, that are watching these kinds of blogs and trying to pick these things up.
But that's -- I think this is -- as I say, the FBI has done a good job. They've made a series of arrests over the last two weeks, and it looks like they've thwarted a series of these plots. And they've batted over 90 percent. But that's not good enough in this situation, sir.
BLITZER: It certainly isn't. Four Marines, unfortunately, are dead as a result of what happened in Chattanooga. Thanks very much, Senator, for joining us.
KING: Always a pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, we'll have more on the possible terror ties in the Chattanooga attacks. Stay with us.
[17:28:40] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. The FBI today saying the Chattanooga shootings are being investigated as an act of terrorism.
With us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. He's our CNN law enforcement analyst. The former U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman. She's a leading intelligence expert. She now heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. And the former CIA official, Phil Mudd. He's our counterterrorism analyst.
Paul, a lot of focus last year. He spent seven months in Jordan. Jordan's a friendly state; very good cooperation between the U.S. and Jordan. But there are some unsavory people in Jordan, as well.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that's absolutely right. ISIS have a footprint in Jordan. There's a significant number of Islamic extremists, and more than 10,000, we believe. More than 2,000 Jordanians have gone across the border to Syria and Iraq to join up with groups like ISIS. There have been demonstrations in some towns in support of ISIS.
For example, when the caliphate was announced about a year ago, there were big demonstrations in Zarqah (Ph) in Jordan. So there is a possibility that he may have met with somebody with a terrorist agenda over there.
BLITZER: Presumably the Jordanians will help the U.S. better appreciate what was going on in Jordan during those seven months he was there.
Phil, Abdulazeez had a court date coming up on July 30. Yesterday, as you know, was the last night of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, during the last ten days of Ramadan. There's an occasion known as the Night of Power during which the faithful worship, they seek repentance.
Do you think that there's any coordination between what happened in Chattanooga yesterday and the attacks specifically and the end of Ramadan?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think it relates to the end of Ramadan. I think that would be too simple an interpretation. In these cases you're talking about an individual who is going through an emotional process that involves an attack that not only will lead to deaths but that also most probably in my judgment, he knew would lead to his own death. So you've got to go through the process of weeks and months including other individuals who are radicalizing him that leads him to a decision based on a combination of factors.
Maybe one was the court case, maybe something was happening in his personal life, maybe he was triggered by a conversation over e-mail or in person. But one date, I rarely saw instances where a terrorist, especially somebody who as emotionally invested as this guy had to be, who is motivated only by one factor like a day. It's got to be more complicated than that.
BLITZER: What do you think, Paul?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, I mean, ISIS called for a surge in terrorism during Ramadan. They also said that there will be 10 times more rewards in the afterlife if people carried out attacks during Ramadan. It's been a very powerful motivating factor for people who plotted these terrorist attacks, carried out these terrorist attacks that the promise of rewards in the afterlife not just for them, they believe, but also for their families.
BLITZER: And we heard from one of his friends, Jane, that when he came back from Jordan he seemed to be different. More devout, less friendly, if you will. Going back to when he graduated from high school, in his yearbook, he wrote, "My name causes national security alerts, what does yours do?" Now obviously he was trying to be funny, trying to be cute. But there's a sensitivity it shows.
JANE HARMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: Absolutely. And it's a sensitivity we should be alert to. If we just generalize because someone has a Muslim name or an Arab name and assume that he's in a sort of bad category, not only might we cause damage to that person, but we unfairly target these folks. I applaud what the Joint Terrorism Task Force and local law enforcement are doing. They're not leaping to conclusions.
They're saying they think this is a terrorist inspired act. But they're not labeling it ISIS until they can get the proof. And maybe there won't be proof.
BLITZER: We know the FBI now in Quantico, they're going through all of his computers, his cell phones, anything that he had there. But you and I have discussed this, Tom, it's possible he was using the encrypted communications and the FBI or the NSA for that matter, they're not going to be able to crack that.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: If he was using it. There's no indication yet that they can see that he was directed to do that or actually trying to do that. You know, so far what they're saying is, there just isn't yet the smoking gun that's been found in his e-mails, in the material on his computers. In the phone calls that he's made or the conversations with friends. Doesn't mean he's not inspired, it doesn't mean that's not true. It just means since they can't find it or haven't found it yet, they're not ready to call it that.
BLITZER: He was obviously an intelligent guy, Phil. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga with a degree in engineering. He had a job. He must have been pretty savvy with computers, stuff like that. What does it say to you? How does someone like this seemingly an all-American kid become mass murderer?
MUDD: It involves the indoctrination or sort of radicalization by another human being. The first question I'd have on the inside is not why he did this. That's the question we're asking today, Wolf. The question I'd have on the inside is, who did he talk to personally, because typically, despite these stories in the public domain that people are inspired by the Internet. The action is usually inspired by another individual, you're talking to personally, face to face. You're talking to over Skype, you're talking to over e-mail.
So he who led him down a path first to believe that there was the -- this was the correct interpretation of the Quran and second to believe that an act of violence was the appropriate way to respond to that interpretation of the Quran. The hunt now in Jordan and the hunt in Chattanooga is not for an answer to why he did this. It's for an answer to who led him down this path because I'm going to bet you, with someone this intelligent, there is somebody else out there.
BLITZER: You agree, Jane? HARMAN: Well, I do. But remember, he at least was sensitive to his
name in high school. It's a long history. His father may have been violent. There are obviously or allegedly were -- was alcohol and drugs which is surprising for a devout Muslim. So something wrong with this kid. He may have not been cleared or he'd gotten an additional clearance for the job that he had. And so we'll learn more about it.
It's only been several days. And it seems to me that the way this investigation is being conducted is really commendable. And we shouldn't generalize and lead to conclusions.
BLITZER: It's only been since yesterday, Tom.
FUENTES: Yes, 24 hours.
BLITZER: Yes, it's not very long at all.
HARMAN: It feels like 20 years.
HARMAN: But nonetheless your coverage is so good, Wolf, I'm sure we'll learn it first on CNN.
[17:35:05] BLITZER: All right. We'll see. All right, guys, thanks very much.
Coming up, the FBI says it's looking at the suspect's electronic devices right now. What clues are investigators hoping to find. And what is the FBI telling the U.S. Congress. I'll speak with a prominent member of the House Homeland Security Committee, he's also a member of the intelligence committee. There you see him. Congressman Peter King of New York. He's standing by.
BLITZER: We're following breaking developments in the investigation of the Chattanooga shootings that left four U.S. Marines dead this afternoon.
[17:40:00] The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Mike McCaul said in his judgment this was in fact an ISIS inspired attack. He also gave reporters this chilling warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: There are ISIS investigations in all 50 states across the United States of America. They are permeating our society and this country through the Internet and through social media. It's very, very difficult to stop it. And I believe yesterday, unfortunately, we couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our justice correspondent Pamela Brown who's watching what's going on, talking to a lot of sources. The chairman says he believes this was ISIS inspired. What are you hearing?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That is certainly a theory, Wolf. But at this point in the investigation we're being told that they don't have the evidence to back that up. In fact we're hearing that they're still looking at a lot of other possibilities as well whether the gunman was inspired and influenced by other terrorist groups outside of ISIS such as al Qaeda.
We heard from the FBI special agent in charge today, he said, at this point, the only one directing or inspiring the gunman was the gunman himself. So that is an indication that they haven't found a smoking gun or anything so far to indicate that he was acting on behalf of a terrorist organization like ISIS.
And I've also learned through sources, Wolf, that during the shootings, he didn't have any outward manifestation that he was actually working on a behalf of a terrorist group. He didn't say anything that would indicate he was, but what we'll be key here is what they find inside of his apartment specifically on his electronics -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We also know the chairman, Mike McCaul, explaining that the FBI is now looking very closely at all of Abdulazeez's communications devices. They brought, I think, all of them to Quantico where the Marine -- where the FBI has their top investigative unit, if you will.
What are your learning about that?
BROWN: We're learning that process began last night, Wolf. And it takes a while, depending on what kind of security measures were on his electronic devices. So it could be a while until we learn more, but that is key there. Looking through his laptop, his cell phones, any electronic devices he may have had.
What they're going to want to do is analyze his social media activity. What we know is that before this happened he wasn't on the FBI's radar. So he wasn't putting anything out there on social media that was alarming to them or authorities didn't know that it was him behind it. Again sometimes people use Twitter handles and they can't make the connection with who is behind it. But bottom line here, what was on his computer, what was on his electronics, is a top priority for investigators right now -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He murdered four U.S. Marines, obviously, it is a top priority.
All right. Pamela, thank you.
We're joined now by a prominent member of the U.S. Homeland Security Committee as well as the Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York is joining us.
Congressman, the chairman of your committee, you know him, Mike McCaul, he says that in his experience this attack was ISIS inspired. At a minimum, what do you know about this? REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Well, as you know,
Pamela Brown just said the FBI is going through all the electronic devices and there may not be any specific evidence they have yet. That it was ISIS inspired. But what Mike McCaul was saying is, on the totality of indications so far, this is something that certainly could have been inspired by ISIS.
And if it was not inspired by ISIS, it's certainly been inspired by the whole world of Islamic terrorism because we've been hearing for months about the need for ISIS and others to attack law enforcement, to attack the military. There's been these repeated calls coming over the Internet through social media and the general media. So one way or the other, he got the idea from someone and since it follows this pattern of attacking the military, and the -- and arrest in Ramadan, to me, it's almost semantics whether he was actually inspired by ISIS or whether or not he just inspired generally because Islamic jihadists.
BLITZER: Or if he was instructed, he was actually ordered to do something like this, maybe while he spent last year, seven months in Jordan. That's a possibility as well.
KING: Absolutely, Wolf. That's a whole separate issue. And that's why the FBI is putting such a full court press on this. The fact is that he did spend several months in Jordan. That has to raise alarm bells now looking back at it. Why, you know, a young man of his age, you know, went over there to join -- that's a long period of time to be out of your own country, to be in Jordan.
And while Jordan is one of our very, very closest allies in the entire world, there's no doubt that there are Islamist forces in Jordan as well. So all -- by the way, I can guarantee we will get total and full cooperation from King Abdullah and his intelligence forces in Jordan to the extent that they have any idea what -- you know, what this assailant was up to when he was in Jordan.
BLITZER: Have you been briefed now by the FBI, other U.S. law enforcement intelligence community officials?
[17:45:04] KING: I have through my staff. Yes, I receive pretty extensive briefings. And I would say basically what we're hearing privately is pretty much what you're hearing publicly, is that this is all out there. And the FBI is putting on a full court press. And the main thing right now is the electronic devices and also whatever they can get from Jordan, as to what he did when he was over there. That's where the key components right now.
And I guess, as Jane Harman said before, you know, we're in the first 24, 30 hours of this investigation and there is so much more that could come out. Like with the Boston marathon bombing, it was really weeks and maybe even longer than that before the full story came out about the Tsarnaev brothers. So I think we should be -- again just keep in mind that this is clearly an Islamist act.
And the question now is whether or not he acted on his own, whether he was inspired, whether he was directed and whether or not there could be other friends and associates of his who somehow could still be involved in this, or that's what the FBI has to be looking at.
And also one thing I may want to add on this, Wolf, is that it is very hard to stop these type people just by monitoring social media. That's why I think it's more important than ever that local police be brought in by the FBI, that's what we've seen in New York City where you had the five arrests last month.
The police on the ground, they get information that the FBI would not be able to get through their sources and methods. So the two working together. So for instance, the fact that his father was investigated several years ago. I hope the FBI made that known to local police. Because in that case then the police can keep an eye on other members of the family. Not a full scale surveillance but certainly monitor and see what's happening because again the FBI is limited in what it can do and just by, you know, limited amount of manpower.
So that's why it's really important, we're going to find out who these either lone wolves are or people who are actual accomplices. You have to have on the ground, police on the ground with no substitute for combining the federal capabilities with having cops on the ground. That's a great marriage. That's what we've seen in New York with the FBI and the NYPD and the JTTF.
BLITZER: And he apparently wasn't on any terror watch list or anything like that.
Stand by, Congressman, I have more questions. Especially about U.S. military soft targets. Does more need to be done right now to protect the men and women of the United States military?
[17:51:48] BLITZER: We're back with Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
Congressman, as you know, this guy Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, he attacked what's called a soft target. Yes, two U.S. military targets but the military personnel there are not armed.
Should officials at these recruitment offices -- there are some off Long Island, they're in your district, all over the country, they're at shopping centers, they're at the strip malls. They want people to come in, young people, men and women to get information about serving the country in the military. Should first of all there be heightened security at these recruitment centers? And should these U.S. military personnel, whether Marines or others be armed?
KING: Two things, Wolf. My understanding is the NYPD has already increased security at the -- any of these recruiting stations in New York City. Secondly, I believe that yes. I think that the personnel in there, at least several of them, should be armed. The world has changed. And we know right now whether it's ISIS or other Islamist forces, that they have said that all military personnel, particularly military and police. All uniformed personnel are now targets. So in view of that, this is such an unfortunately a soft, open target.
I think that they should be armed and also we should reinforce them as far as bullet proofing the glass to the extent we can. Maybe have some type of alarms. Because again that's not the type of where we want to live in. But unfortunately, we've been put in that situation and we saw the consequences of it yesterday.
BLITZER: We know the governor of Oklahoma took a step today to do some of those -- take some of those steps. Should the governor of New York, Governor Cuomo, do that?
KING: Mary Fallon is a hero of mine now in Oklahoma, so I'm not surprised that she did it. As far as Governor Cuomo, in New York, that is primarily a local obligation. And New York City has gone ahead and done it, and I would think other municipalities should. If they believe they need assistance from the state police then yes. The governor should get involved. Yes.
BLITZER: As far as you know, the fact that he was on watch list, no terror list, not even on a no fly list, or anything along those lines. Was there an intelligence failure there?
KING: Wolf, I wouldn't say it's intelligence failure but I think it shows the need to have more comprehensive analysis going on. For instance, in the Boston marathon bombing, the FBI was told by the Russians to be suspicious of the older brother. The FBI did an investigation and found nothing and dropped it. Never told the Boston police.
I would think in each of these instances, the FBI should do its own investigation which they did of the father. But then they should let the local police know and ask for any additional help from the local police and the local police should keep a -- at least a monitoring of that -- of those people. And in doing that, you may have found out something about Mohammad himself here. So it shows in the new world in which we live, there has to be more surveillance. And that's why I think it's been wrong when you have elements like the "New York Times," the Civil Liberties Union who go after, like the NYPD, for carrying out surveillance.
It's necessary to do that to pick up the type of rumors and discussions or whatever, that should be looked into by cops on the ground. They're the ones who combine what they get with the FBI's overview.
BLITZER: All right.
KING: And that to me is the only way that we -- to hopefully have of stopping these type of attacks.
[17:55:07] BLITZER: Congressman Peter King of New York. Thank you.
KING: Wolf, thank you very much.
BLITZER: Coming up, we are getting some new information right now from some of those closest to this killer. One friend is now saying, and I'm quoting, "something happened to him overseas."
And how vulnerable are other U.S. military recruitment centers all across the country? We're going live to the Pentagon. Under pressure right now to ramp up security after what's being called these soft military targets.