According to reports, Chattanooga, Tennessee, gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez texted a friend just hours before he killed five military servicemen, and sent a link of an Islamic verse that included a line about declaring war against enemies.
The friend, who requested to remain anonymous, told reporters that he thought nothing of the text at the time. Now, however, the friend says he wonders whether or not it was related to Thursday’s shooting.
“I didn't see it as a hint at the time, but it may have been his way of telling me something," the friend said. Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old U.S. citizen born in Kuwait, reportedly sent a link of a long Islamic verse that included the line, “Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him."
Abdulazeez was killed by police following the rampage, and the FBI is currently investigating his motives. Though no connection to Islamic extremism has been made definitively, an “eye-opening” 2014 trip to the Middle East taken by the young man has many questioning whether or not he was radicalized or influenced by extremists.
“That trip was eye-opening for him,” the friend said. "He learned a lot about the traditions and culture of the Middle East. He felt Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia were not doing enough to help, and that they were heavily influenced by the United States."
“He had always talked about it, but I'd say his level of understanding and awareness really rose after he came back,” another friend of Abdulazeez told Reuters.