A week after Chattanooga shooter Mohammad Abdulazeez’s attack, very little is known about his motives, path to radicalization, and network of affiliations. Immediately after the attack, Islamic State (IS) fighters and supporters hailed Abdulazeez as a “soldier of the Islamic State,” but no official messages from IS claiming the attack have yet been made. This silence is noteworthy considering the case of the shooting in Garland, Texas: Not only did IS fighter Junaid Hussain bluntly indicate his connection to this attack, but in less than two days, IS officially announced the shooters to be “two soldiers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.”
So why all the confusion surrounding Abdulazeez?
Because he was prepared. Abdulazeez did what jihadists are asked to do prior to execution of their attacks: delete important information that could provide insight into their networks. Jihadi recruiters often advise prospects to “delete your social network accounts or stay inactive,” as well as “all the nasheed [Islamic chants], videos, pictures, messages” prior to their attacks or migration to jihad.