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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Idaho Senator James Risch; Tennessee Shooting Investigation Continues. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired July 17, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: armed for slaughter.
We're getting new information about the terror investigation in Tennessee and the weapons used to gun down four U.S. Marines. I will talk to a woman who recorded chilling video capturing the shots as they were fired.
Motive for murder. The FBI is digging deep into the gunman's communications online and his travels to the Middle East. Tonight, the House Homeland Security chairman believes investigators will find a clear link to terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: My judgment and my experience is that this was an ISIS-inspired attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Soft targets. U.S. military recruitment centers all over the country, they are on guard tonight as the Pentagon is reviewing security. Should troops be allowed to carry weapons any time anywhere to defend themselves against acts of terror?
And victims remembered. We now know the names of the four U.S. Marines who were killed, from a war hero to a recent recruit. They died serving their country in a place where they thought they were safe.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: New video tonight capturing the sounds of multiple rounds of gunfire ringing out during the shooting rampage that killed four U.S. Marines, federal authorities stressing this is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
They're now revealing that the shooter was armed with at least two, two long guns and a handgun as well. He was wearing a vest to carry extra ammunition. Tonight, the FBI is analyzing the computer, the cell phone, the other devices that belong to the gunman, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez. Investigators are also looking for any contacts he might have had with members of ISIS or other terrorist groups.
A close friend tells CNN that something happened to Abdulazeez after he spent time in the Middle East as recently as last year. Chattanooga is now remembering the victims of this attack with an interfaith service tonight.
The military has also now released the names of all four murdered Marines.
I will talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee member James Risch. He's standing by. There you see him. He's been very vocal in warning about an attack precisely like this one.
And our correspondents and analysts, they are also standing by to cover the breaking news.
First, let's get the very latest from CNN's Victor Blackwell. He's on the scene for us in Chattanooga -- Victor.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the FBI says that agents are following up on 70 leads they have received related to this attack. And while there are no indications currently that this attack was orchestrated by ISIS, they say that their investigators are ruling nothing out.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): Tonight, investigators are scrutinizing the gunman's computer, cell phone and social media accounts as they search for a motive in the deadly rampage that killed four Marines.
Officials say Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez was not on any U.S. terror database.
BILL KILLIAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: The active shooter situation is being treated as a terrorism investigation.
BLACKWELL: The attack began when 24-year-old Abdulazeez drove this silver convertible Mustang loaded with two long guns and a handgun to a military recruiting center and strip mall. He pulled out an AK-47-style rifle and opened fire from inside the car, riddling the building with bullet holes.
SALLY BRYER, WITNESS: As he brought the barrel up, he started shooting and he just went back and forth shooting. And then he dropped the clip and put a new one in.
BLACKWELL: Wearing a load-bearing vest to carry magazines, he drove about seven miles to a Naval reserve facility where he rammed through the gates and then engaged in a gun battle, killing four Marines before he was shot dead by Chattanooga police.
FRED FLETCHER, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE, POLICE CHIEF: It was clear that this gunman had every intent to encounter and to murder police officers if he needed to.
BLACKWELL: Abdulazeez was a mixed martial arts fighter. Friends say he was an accomplished student and well-liked by his peers.
KAGAN WAGNER, FORMER CLASSMATE: He always fit in. He had a big group of friends. He was never bullied or treated like an outcast. He was pretty popular, really, always a real funny guy.
BLACKWELL: He was also a devout Muslim who prayed at this mosque and others in the Chattanooga area. A naturalized U.S. citizen, he was a Palestinian, born in Kuwait. He carried travel documents issued by Jordan.
Using his U.S. passport, the Jordanian government says Abdulazeez traveled to Jordan last year to visit his uncle. Abdulazeez was arrested in April for a DUI. According to the police report, he smelled of alcohol and marijuana and he had a white powdery substance under his nose.
He allegedly told police that it was crushed caffeine pills that he snorted.
BLACKWELL: And the federal agent who is leading this investigation says it appears that at least some of those weapons that were in Abdulazeez's possession were purchased legally and again these are the early days of the investigation. But that agent also says that it appears no one else was involved and that Abdulazeez was radicalized by no one other than himself.
Again, these are the early days of the investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, we're about to learn, I suspect, a whole lot more. Victor, thank you.
Tonight, one top U.S. official has little if any doubt that the Chattanooga that attack is in fact linked directly to ISIS. Listen to the House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Mike McCaul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAUL: We have seen too much of this traffic. There are too many of the warning signs. The targets are identical of the targets called by ISIS to attack. So, in my judgment, in my experience, is that this was an ISIS-inspired attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez. He is getting new information about Abdulazeez's employment, for example. It's very intriguing, the stuff you're just learning.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
The information we have just gotten from FirstEnergy power plant near Cleveland, Ohio, according to the officials there, Abdulazeez was dismissed as an engineer. He worked there for about 10 days in 2013, according to a spokesman for FirstEnergy. Apparently, employees at the plant recognized Abdulazeez when they saw the events in Chattanooga and alerted officials there that he had worked there for 10 days.
The Associated Press, which first reported this story, said he had perhaps failed a background check. According to FirstEnergy, that is not the case. They said they simply are saying that he did not meet minimum requirements for ongoing employment and they said it was part of an ongoing investigation. Now it is unclear exactly what that is, why he would not have met the minimum requirements.
We know that he had an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and according to the power plant officials, he was never granted any unescorted access to this power plant and never was in any area that requires strict security.
BLITZER: So let's talk about the timeline a little bit. He graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, what, in 2012.
BLITZER: In 2013, he's conditionally hired by this company, which is a major power plant, FirstEnergy power plan in Perry, Ohio. And they start training him. And after 10 days, they say to him, you're not going to get this job.
PEREZ: You do not have the requirements needed to perform this job.
BLITZER: Was it the background check? Was there something in his background? Because you need top security clearances to work at this kind of power plant. They have got to report their information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is a very sensitive kind of job.
PEREZ: It is a very sensitive kind of job. These are jobs that you do, you have to go through a rigorous background check.
It's not clear. They say according to FirstEnergy that they're not calling it a failure to pass a background check. They simply say he did not meet minimum requirements. Those requirements could be everything from educational requirements to perhaps he did not fill out the proper documentation accurately when they went to do the background check. So it is not clear what exactly were the minimum requirements that he did not meet.
BLITZER: It is interesting, though, they did in fact bring him to Ohio. He relocated there. After 10 days, they said you don't have a job.
PEREZ: You would think...
PEREZ: ... done some of this work ahead of time, before you even get access there.
PEREZ: That is absolutely now something that they say they have now reported to the FBI, to the authorities doing this investigation.
BLITZER: That was only two years ago, in 2013. Stand by.
Tonight, a friend of this killer is revealing new information to CNN about him, about Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, and his travels to the Middle East.
Let's go to our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin. He is joining us now live from Chattanooga. He has got more.
Drew, you had a chance to speak with this friend who has known this guy, what, since they were both young kids.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really young kids, boys, actually. They grew up together. They're both the same age, 24 years old.
And we were asking him questions about his demeanor, how he was, happy, great kid, wonderful kid, joker, American type of a kid who grew up here. But he said when he began these overseas trips, especially these extended trips that we know took place last year, he said something changed over there. He distanced himself when he came back. The friend said he never became close to me like he was before he went overseas and said something happened.
The friend did not want to go on camera, but relayed this to us, also told us that as far as the guns in Abdulazeez's life, he said he had guns a lot of time in his life, but not in a kind of threatening way. He did go shooting a lot. It was more recreational.
So he was very familiar with guns. But at no time did it appear to this friend, a close friend, that there was anything threatening about the ownership of those guns. This all comes out, Wolf, as we're learning that the FBI is scouring along with Jordanian officials what kind of visits he did have in the Middle East and what if any contacts he may have had to anyone who may have radicalized or influenced him to commit this act which we now know he did commit.
BLITZER: And I know you have also obtained a copy of divorce records from his family alleging violence in the family, violence by his father against his mother. Tell us what you discovered.
This all comes from 2009. So it was a few years ago. And I must tell you that when I tell you that his mother filed for divorce, she also filed to squash the entire thing one month later. But in the court record, the mother of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez says that the father, Youssuf, verbally, physically, sexually abused her, beat her in front of the kids. The father threatened to get a second wife, as she said was allowed under Islamic law in Palestine, their natural state of Palestine, the Palestinian territories.
They did have five children together. And what took place was an intervention, you might say, by the mother's brothers, one who came from as far as Kuwait to talk to the father. They agreed to counseling. They agreed to this kind of petition whereby he would no longer strike or harm the children and would give his wife money. And then on February 27 of 2009, the entire case was dismissed without any prejudice.
But it does point to a time in his life recently where there was apparently trouble in the home -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. If you read that document, as I have, it describes pretty awful allegations against his father and how he abused his mother in all sorts of ways.
Must have had a huge impact on this young man and his four sisters. We have seen the pictures of this family. All right, Drew, thanks very much.
Witnesses describe a really terrifying scene yesterday in Chattanooga as multiple rounds of gunfire exploded during the attacks.
Let's talk now to a woman who recorded the shots being fired on her cell phone.
Karen Hedrick is joining us on the phone.
Karen, thanks very much. You shot the video capturing these moments of the deadly shoot-out. I want, first of all, to watch and listen to what you shared with us. Stand by. Wow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Wow. Karen, tell our viewers what it was like to experience that.
KAREN HEDRICK, WITNESS: Well, it was shocking.
At first, didn't really know what was going on. Just kind of was surrounded by police cars and coming from all directions. And so I pulled over. And I heard gunfire, so I started videoing, along with some other people that were with -- or beside me.
And terrorists didn't, you know, enter my mind. I was thinking somebody robbed a bank. Or -- so I wasn't terrified at that point, you know, being where I was just across the street. BLITZER: Yes, sounds so, so scary.
You were essentially trapped, right, because there were so many police around you.
BLITZER: What could you see happening? Because the video, you shot just the sounds of all those gunshots are so powerful. Could you actually see the shooter?
HEDRICK: No, no.
I'm not familiar with that area across the street. It seemed to me the police that I saw were looking down. It would seem to me that it would be like a ravine or something lower than the actual road of Amnicola. So I didn't see him, no.
BLITZER: Are you OK now, Karen? Are you all right?
HEDRICK: Yes. I think it is kind of sinking in more today exactly, you know, hearing all the reports of it being a terrorist attack and just, it's here in Chattanooga.
That's just crazy. My son actually yesterday was working in Hixson and got cornered in, in the shooter's subdivision. So it's crazy and strange how all of this stuff has come about just in my immediate family. But my thoughts and prayers are with all -- the Marines and the police. I'm so thankful for the Chattanooga police and the Hamilton County Police Department for protecting us like they did yesterday and they do every day.
BLITZER: I agree with you completely.
Karen, thanks very much.
Karen Hedrick shared that video with us, very, very powerful, scary material.
Let's get some more now on what's going on. James Risch is joining us. He's the U.S. senator. He's a Republican. He's a key member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, you hear those shots. You see what's going on. You have been briefed on this situation, I assume. Tell us what you know.
SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Well, Wolf, virtually everything that is known, you have reported. There's a few details that are classified.
But, by and large, you know exactly what happened and the details that are classified wouldn't change the conclusions and those things that you have already reported. I will say a couple of things we note from this. First of all, you and I have been talking about this for a long time. This is exactly the kind of thing that we have talked about.
We have a very, very robust intelligence community in America that is doing a great job. This kind of situation is the most dangerous, because this guy just did not give the signals ahead of time that can be picked up. If there is no signals of any kind, there's no evidence ahead of time, you really can't blame anyone for not picking it up.
And that's pretty much what he had here. The people you interviewed that knew him from the past just gave no indications that this guy had these kinds of problems. But the one thing, of course, that immediately pops out at you are these trips that he made over to Jordan in the recent past. Of course, he had a seven-month stint over there in Jordan.
Obviously, something happened there. We will find out. We will follow those things back and see what the connections were there. We will get to the bottom of that. But it is very difficult. The one thing I'm holding judgment on a little bit is, I know one of my colleagues said they were convinced this was an ISIS-inspired attack.
I am convinced that it was a radical Islamic-inspired attack. I'm not so sure it was ISIS. There is a lot of them out there. Al Qaeda is still out there. Al-Nusra is out there. There's lots of others out there.
Now, admittedly, ISIS is the most likely candidate, but you notice they haven't jumped forward. In all of these other ISIS- inspired ones, within a short period of time, they jumped right in the middle of it and said, look, this is ours. This is what we did.
That hasn't happened here yet, so I'm going to reserve judgment. But there's no question that it is one of those groups really that inspired this person to do this.
BLITZER: And very often, after this kind of incident, as you know, Senator, there is also a video that is released, some so-called martyr video that is released, by some group explaining why this individual went out there and did what he did.
Senator, stand by. We're getting new information. I just want to go through it. We will take a quick break. Much more with Senator Risch when we come back.
BLITZER: All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We're getting new details about the number of weapons carried by that Chattanooga gunman.
Let's bring back our justice reporter, Evan Perez.
Evan, what are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we now know that the gunman actually had four guns.
These were four guns that were seized yesterday at the end of the shooting. The FBI at the press conference mentioned that there were two long guns and one handgun that were found at the scene at the end of the shooting there. After that, the FBI went and did a -- conducted a search and they found another rifle at the home of the suspect.
So now we know that there are three long guns and a rifle, a handgun, a .9-millimeter handgun was found and three rifles in all were found. The FBI is saying that they're still investigating to try to figure out whether or not there was a crime committed in the transfer of at least one of these firearms.
We know the investigators believe that these were not recently purchased. These were guns that he had and he liked to shoot. His friends have said that, that he was a fan of guns and went out shooting so it was not unusual for him to have these. We don't know when those guns were purchased, but it was not a recent purchase, according to investigators.
BLITZER: Yes, four weapons and a lot of clips of ammunition too.
PEREZ: A lot of firepower, which is what explains that scene, that incredible scene that that witness recorded.
BLITZER: Yes, we heard all those gunshots.
Very quickly, the sounds of silence. You and I have been discussing this. What intriguing element -- here he is, 24 years old. He's a young guy. He is not -- apparently not on Facebook, not on Instagram, not on Twitter, no social media that we could find.
BLITZER: I assume law enforcement is looking closely. That's highly unusual, which raises the question, is he engaged in encryption? Is he doing secret stuff? Has he plotted this for a long time?
PEREZ: That really adds to the puzzle in this case, Wolf, because he doesn't fit the mold of so many of these attackers that we have seen before. People who are proud of what they have done and almost immediately you find that they have posted something, left something behind. Proud of what they have done.
In this case, there are no signs of that and again this goes back to the trip to Jordan and whether or not there's something that happened there. Was he instructed by someone to erase all signs of that and to lay low, to plan this attack? We don't know. That is certainly what is part of this investigation at this point.
BLITZER: Because he is obviously an engineer. He just finished college...
(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: ... years ago. A smart guy. You would think he would
be all over social media, like everybody else his age, and he wasn't.
PEREZ: His age, exactly.
BLITZER: That's the sound of silence that they're investigating. Good work, Evan Perez.
I want to go back to Senator James Risch, who is joining us.
What do you think about these latest developments, first of all, Senator, the fact that he had four guns, not two, not three, but four, and a lot of ammunition clips?
RISCH: Wolf, we haven't focused on the guns. This guy was a United States citizen. He had nothing in his background that would stop him from going out and purchasing as many guns as he wants.
He was exercising his Second Amendment right in that regard. A lot of us own guns and that isn't what we're focused on. We're focused on the individual, what he did, and how he got radicalized and I don't think there is any question but that he was radicalized.
An interesting point you just discussed, and it is becoming more and more common is what you called the sounds of silence. I would call it the deep Internet. There are ways obviously to communicate anymore that you can use encryption and different ways to mask what you do, although again that is not what we usually see in these.
We usually see where people are stating their opinions, doing manifestos, doing a lot of different things. We had none of that with this guy. There was just nothing in his background with the possible exception of his father some years back. But that's really about it. And it is the most dangerous condition you can possibly have.
BLITZER: Do you have any information to believe that while he was, let's say, in Jordan for those seven months, he was being trained by someone? Someone was instructing him? You know what, you don't go on social media. You don't post anything on Facebook or Twitter. You stay silent, but get ready. You're going to be doing something.
RISCH: Entirely possible. Certainly, it is suspicious that there was that long of a trip over to Jordan which, of course, is immediately adjacent to Syria. And easily could you move from Jordan into Syria.
You just don't know what happened over there. But there are ways and means of finding out what he did over there and who he was in contact with. And that will all be analyzed in detail to find out exactly what happened. Something happened. There is absolutely no question about it. What it was and who it was that did this is of real interest to us.
BLITZER: Is security good enough at these U.S. military recruitment centers? You have got some in your home state of Idaho. Are you worried about what's going on at these so-called soft targets? RISCH: Well, you know, Wolf, we're Americans. And we don't
build defensive mechanisms wherever we are.
And a recruiting station certainly wouldn't be high on the list of something you would think about as being a target. But we have had these over recent years. We have had situations in supermarkets, in movie theaters, in malls, in stores.
Look, we can't go about our lives building walls around everything that we do. And there's 330 million of us. And we have tried to go about our lives regularly. Unfortunately, you and I are talking about these sorts of thing way too frequently. The good thing, the good news, as you noted earlier today, there were a lot of these broken up.
For every one of these that we hear about or that they have some success in, as you know, the intelligence community and the FBI thwarts a lot of these. And that's a good thing.
BLITZER: Last week, you told us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Senator, in your words, these lone wolf type of attacks, they're smaller. They're still very devastating. And you said, there is no question they're going to happen, they're going to succeed here in the United States.
You were basing that on what?
[18:30:18] RISCH: Well, I think the collection of all the information that we have. But more importantly, the trend. This isn't -- this isn't something new. This has been trending for over a year, where we're seeing these kind of attacks.
We've really shifted, and the terrorist groups have shifted from these large iconic kinds of things to more of the smaller lone-wolf attacks. That certainly doesn't make them any less devastating to the innocent people that are caught up in it. But nonetheless, that's the shift, and it is -- it's easier to do. It's easier to pull off.
And that's what, as they've had these small successes that they have had in the United States, it has been using this new method, if you would, of attack, as opposed to the larger iconic kinds of things that they've attempted in the past.
BLITZER: Senator Risch, thanks very much for joining us.
RISCH: You bet, Wolf. Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we could know more in a matter of only a few hours about what was the Chattanooga gunman's -- what was inside the computer -- the computers and cell phones of this killer. Our correspondents, they're working their stories. We're getting new information on the investigation.
Plus, should U.S. troops be allowed to carry weapons inside recruitment and training facilities at shopping centers and office buildings all over the United States? We're learning about the initial security review process. It's underway at the Pentagon. We're getting new information.
[18:36:36] BLITZER: Breaking news. New information about the weapons used in that deadly attack on two U.S. military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A law enforcement source telling CNN four guns were seized: three at the shooting scene, one from the home of the gunman, the 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working this part of the story for us. What's the latest, Pamela? What are you finding out?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning more about what the gunman had with him, Wolf, when he went on that shooting rampage yesterday. And what was in his home.
What we've learned is that after authorities searched his home, that they found a rifle inside. Also, the gunman was equipped with two long guns and one handgun when he went on the rampage; and sources tell us that one of the weapons was an AK-47-style gun. So that is what we're learning as far as the weapons go.
The active investigation is still very ongoing, Wolf. And what authorities are trying to do is find out whether this gunman had a link to any terrorist groups. Whether or not he has any link to ISIS, which of course, is a theory at this point. But also, they're looking at whether he had any connections to al Qaeda, any other terrorist groups.
And what that tells you right now is that they haven't found anything in particular jumping out at them, giving them that answer. But it's still very early on in this investigation, Wolf. In fact, they just started looking at his electronics, his computer last night. Still very early.
BLITZER: Yes, it's only day two. Yesterday it happened, and now it's really the first full day that this investigation has been underway. So you're right. Absolutely. Very early. They're going to be learning a lot -- a lot more.
Thank you, Pamela Brown.
Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us, our CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez. He's getting new information. Also, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. He's our law enforcement analyst. The former CIA counterterrorism official, Philip Mudd. He's our CIA counterterrorism analyst. And the criminal defense attorney, the HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. Guys, thanks very much.
You know, it's interesting that we heard earlier from the day from the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, saying he believes this was ISIS-inspired.
Now we're hearing from Senator Risch of the intelligence committee, it was definitely terrorist-inspired. Whether it was ISIS or al Qaeda or al Nusra or another group, still unclear. But they both believe that there is a direct linkage, at least as far as inspiration from a terrorist group.
FUENTES: That's true, Wolf. All the FBI is saying at this point is that, while it certainly appears to be inspired by one of the terrorist groups, they just don't have the link established yet. The so-called smoking gun of an e-mail or of a posting on social media or of a phone call, of a personal contact. They just don't have that link established yet from an evidentiary standpoint.
BLITZER: Phil Mudd, as you know, one of his close friends said he seemed to have changed when he last year came back to Chattanooga after spending seven months in Jordan. That he was more distance, more devout, if you will. What does that say to you?
MUDD: Well, I've heard a lot of conversation in the past day about whether his devoutness, his devotion to the religion, is a good indicator. In my experience in 25 years of this, it is not.
If you're devout, you're going to participate in a congregation and have conversations about the faith. Devout people will tell you in those conversations that the use of violence is not appropriate for any purpose except defense, except some forms of jihad. But you cannot kill innocents for a political or religious cause.
[18:40:13] The indicator here that to me is significant that you mentioned, Wolf, it's not devout. It's whether he separated himself off from people, because he believed that the devout were not taking enough action to commit acts of violence. That's the best indicator you can find if you're at home or if you're in a congregation. If somebody says, "I don't want to be with the herd. I've got to separate off, because the herd just isn't active enough."
BLITZER: We're showing our videos video of when he was engaged in mixed martial arts. There you see it right there. This is after high school. This was his passion; this was his hobby at the time.
Evan Perez, his father was investigated twice by the FBI for supposedly contributing to a group that was terror-related, if you will. He was cleared, apparently, on both occasions; but that can have an impact on a young man.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could, Wolf. But at this point, the investigators don't believe it has anything to do with the events that happened yesterday. They don't see anything that indicates that there was any -- those investigations were certainly years ago. One was in the 1990s. One -- there was another one that was conducted right after 9/11.
I'll tell you, just to add to the conversation with Phil and Tom from just a few minutes ago. One of the things that adds to the puzzle of this young man is the fact that what he carried out yesterday were deliberate, only trying to target military members. You know, from what we've seen in many of these attackers who are inspired by ISIS in particular, they don't really care who they kill.
This guy was only trying to kill. He had opportunity to kill civilians. He only wanted to kill U.S. military. That could be a meaningful fact in the end. And when this investigation gets all wrapped up, it might tell us a little bit about where his inspiration might have come from. His version of radicalization that he has arrived at is perhaps a little different from others that we've seen.
BLITZER: That's a good point. And once again, ISIS has not claimed responsibility. They very often do. ISIS has not released martyr video of this guy, declaring his passion, whatever; and so that's an excellent point.
Joey Jackson, from a legal standpoint, is it unusual that the FBI would investigate his father, Youssuf, on two occasions for allegedly, supposedly giving money to what was not necessarily a charitable organization but an organization that the FBI suspected could have terror links? He was apparently cleared of any wrongdoing.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: The answer, Wolf, is absolutely not. As a person who sits on the other side of the FBI in a federal courthouse and the other side of the U.S. attorney, I can tell you they'll investigate you day, night and in between. If they find nothing, OK. If there's suspicion, they'll go after you again, again, again and again. So I don't think there's anything unusual about that.
I do think, certainly, as you move forward and they continue to investigate him, to get a sense of what his motivations were and what might have inspired him, whether it's ISIS or something else, they will start. They'll look at the family. They'll look at the family circle. They'll look at the family friends. They'll spread it out in that community. They'll look throughout the state. They'll look throughout other countries. And they'll go wherever they need to go to get the information they need to put this together. So that's how they'll go about their business at the FBI.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, the FBI is going through the computers, the laptops, the cell phones, all of his equipment. But they're not necessarily going to find everything. Right?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They might find nothing. If he doesn't have social media accounts, if he hasn't been sending e-mails to another co-conspirator, if he hasn't put anything out there in those computers or downloaded information about jihad, they may not find anything. And that's what they're running into now. It's difficult to try to link him to the information that we normally see in a radicalized individual.
BLITZER: And as you know, Phil, I've been told by FBI officials, they're really, really concerned about the new techniques, the new opportunities, the new software they had for encrypted -- encryption, if you will, that they can communicate with others; and no one will really know about it. PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's right. There's
a couple things you need to think about here. Tom is right: they might find very little. It's not just communication we're talking about. I'd be interested in what YouTube videos he's downloading, whether he's watching preachers, whether he's downloading documents about jihad.
So you might be able to find that, regardless of whether he's, as we say in the business, gone dark on communication.
The problem with the communications materials that's available to the public over the Internet now, as people have said, is it makes people like this, their communication inaccessible. If you're an investigator or an analyst, as I was, you've got to find the vulnerability. That vulnerability often is an e-mail or communication.
BLITZER: Guys, stand by. We're getting more news coming in, more on the breaking news that the terrorism investigation in Tennessee, whether the gunman had any direct or indirect ties to ISIS or other terror groups.
And there are urgent calls now to ramp up security at U.S. military recruitment and training centers all over the country to try to prevent another attack like this one. What, if anything, is the Pentagon planning to do?
BLITZER: We're getting more news coming in, more on the breaking news: the terrorism investigation in Tennessee, whether the gunman had any direct or indirect ties to ISIS or other terror groups. And there are urgent calls now to ramp up security at U.S. military recruitment and training centers all over the country to try to prevent another attack like this one.
[18:45:08] What if anything is the Pentagon planning to do?
BLITZER: We're following breaking news.
Authorities now stressing -- they are investigating the shooting rampage in Chattanooga as an act of terrorism.
[18:50:01] There are new calls tonight to increase security at U.S. military recruitment and training centers all over the country to prevent another attack like this one. The House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul promoting the idea of having U.S. armed personnel defend those facilities. He is not alone by any means.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, I take it the Pentagon has at least started reviewing security at these recruitment centers, right? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have are
taking a look at it, Wolf. And, in fact, army recruiters have been getting training for years in how to deal with active shooters. But will there be significant new security measures to protect U.S. troops? That remains to be seen.
STARR (voice-over): In New York's Times Square, heavily armed NYPD guard U.S. military personnel at a recruiting station.
In Plano, Texas, Air Force Sergeant Jose Cortez worries recruiters are sitting ducks.
SGT. JOE CORTEZ, U.S. AIR FORCE: We are essentially a lone target out here and it's easy for us to be targeted.
STARR: At the Chattanooga recruiting center, several marine tour combat veterans, according to a senior Pentagon official. Reports indicate as bullets flew, they immediately went into combat mode to clear the area, having everyone drop to the floor and escape out the back.
An initial Pentagon review in the hours after the attack led to no significant security changes, Pentagon officials say. But the Defense Department is under pressure from the White House to show action on beefing up troop protection.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes it's appropriate for the Department of Defense to conduct a review like that.
STARR: Defense Secretary Ash Carter is asking commanders to take another look.
Several Republican presidential candidates calling for troops to be armed.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are the most highly trained people in our country to handle firearms. And it's ridiculous to make them check their weapons at the door. They can't defend themselves.
STARR: But there are two problems military officials say. On large bases like Fort Hood, increased security is already in place. Letting thousands of troops on base carry firearms could cause havoc.
And hundreds of recruiting stations around the country, there is vulnerability, since the offices are open to the public. But the military under law cannot conduct deadly operations on American streets. And there are questions whether military personnel are trained in the same skills as law enforcement.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: Many of them don't qualify every year in weapons. And they would not have the same skills as some of the security policemen or military policemen would have.
STARR: Well, right now, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has asked the services to give him some recommendations in the next several days. But, so far, we're looking at very minor chains at recruiting centers, things like a handful of them, the employees, military personnel being told not to wear uniforms to work, the Navy saying it will coordinate with law enforcement in some areas more than it is, that sort of thing. Real fundamental change, still to be decided, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thank you. Barbara Starr reporting.
More of our breaking news coverage right after this.
[18:57:47] BLITZER: Tonight, we're remembering the four U.S. marines who were killed in Chattanooga.
CNN's Alexandra Field has their stories.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan earned a Purple Heart, a two-tour marine, a son of Massachusetts, saluted today in the city of Springfield with flags lowered to half staff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My heart just went down to my toes because I said, my God. I suppose when things hit home, close to this area, it affects you a lot deeper.
FIELD: "He was our hero and he will never be forgotten. Thank you Tommy for protecting us", a loved on wrote on Facebook.
From Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, "Terror comes home to Massachusetts. God bless Tom Sullivan and his family and his friends."
Sullivan's last day of duty spent in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the naval marine reserve center. His marine brothers by his side.
Sergeant Carson Holmquist, a decorated marine from Wisconsin, served two tours of duty before he was killed here at home.
Lance Corporal Skip Wells graduated three years ago from Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia. Service was in his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, he loved his country. You know, his mama, his mama served in the military. I believe she was a marine, also. I figured he just wanted to follow in her footsteps. I know he was an ROTC in high school, he loved that. You know, I just think that's a calling that he had. FIELD: Wells took a trip to Disneyworld recently with his mom.
She says, "My son died doing what he loved for the love of his country and his family."
Staff Sergeant David Wyatt is pictured with his children. "There's no sleep tonight," someone writes.
FIELD: The remains of all four servicemen are being transferred to Dover Air Force Base where they will be given an honorable transfer and then, Wolf, they can be laid to rest by their loved ones.
BLITZER: Our deepest condolences to their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Alexandra, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.