Chattanooga Shooting Suspect Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez's Yearbook Quote Is Jarring And Surprising
On Thursday, a gunman, believed to be 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, allegedly opened fire at a Chattanooga, Tennessee military recruitment center and Navy support center. Four Marines were killed, while a Marine, Navy officer, and police officer were wounded. Abdulazeez also died in the wake of the shooting, though it is unclear as to whether he was shot by law enforcement or died by his own hand. The shootings are currently being classified as an act of domestic terrorism, which makes the alleged Chattanooga shooter's yearbook quote all the more jarring given the circumstances surrounding what unfolded on Thursday.
Abdulazeez was originally from Kuwait but had been living in the United States since 1996 as a naturalized citizen. He attended Red Bank High School in Red Bank, Tennessee, which sits just six miles away from Chattanooga. And, in his Red Bank High School yearbook, Abdulazeez quoted a blog, Hijabman, alongside his picture: "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?"
The statement is incredibly evocative and, in retrospect, surprising, considering Abdulazeez quoted a fairly feminist Muslim who advocates for peace and nonviolence. Hijabman is an online persona of a man who documents his life as "a first-generation American Muslim of South Asian descent," according to his website's "About" section. He uses the quote as a means to provoke discussion about what it means to be Muslim in America and not to judge a book by its cover.
According to former friends of Abdulazeez interviewed by the Times Free Press, the alleged shooter was similarly as warm and caring as Hijabman when he attended Red Bank High School. Former classmate Ryan Smith told the paper: "He was an unbelievable nice person. He was honestly one of the funniest guys I've ever met."
Former classmate Kagan Wagner further echoed Smith's statements:"I never thought in a million years that it would be this guy. He was friendly, funny, kind."There appears to have been very little that may have predicted Abdulazeez's alleged violent actions on Thursday. Prior to the incidents, Abdulazeez had just one arrest earlier this year for allegedly driving under the influence. According to reports, he was arrested on April 20 in Chattanooga after he caught the attention of officers by driving recklessly. Abdulazeez subsequently failed a sobriety test and was released on a $2,000 bond after being arrested. It is still unclear what Abdulazeez's motives were when he allegedly opened fire, though the action completely goes against the morals of the person he'd quoted so many years ago.Images: Getty (1)