Feinstein on Chattanooga: 'This Is a Classic Lone-Wolf Terrorist Attack'

By Susan Jones | July 20, 2015 | 6:42 AM EDT

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the U.S. has sent investigators to Jordan to find out what may have radicalized Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, the 24-year-old Kuwait-born Muslim who shot up two military recruiting offices in Chattanooga last week, killing five U.S. Marines.

"In my view, based on what I know so far, this is a classic lone-wolf terrorist attack," Feinstein told CBS's "Face the Nation" with John Dickerson.

"Last year, 2014, ISIL -- or Da'esh, as they say it in the area -- put out a call for people to kill military people, police officers, government officials, and do so on their own, not wait for direction. It could well be that this is that case. Here is somebody who had guns, who knew how to use them, who may have been aggrieved by one thing or another."

Although Feinstein is willing to say the word terrorism, others are not.

On Sunday, the suspect's family, speaking through a representative, said Abdulazeez was plagued by depression as well as drug and alcohol abuse, and they said they sent him to a relative in Jordan last year in an attempt to straighten him out.

The representative said Abdulazeez's family believes his personal struggles explain their son's violent end.

Several years ago, relatives reportedly tried to have Abdulazeez admitted to an in-patient program for drug and alcohol abuse but a health insurer refused to approve the expense, said the representative. "He was medicated like many children are. Through high school and college he did a better job sometimes than others staying with it," the representative said.

Feinstein on Sunday used the tragedy in Chattanooga to warn about Internet and cell-phone encryption: "It is now possible for people, if they're going to talk (by phone) from Syria to the United States or anywhere else, to get on an encrypted app which cannot be decrypted by the government with a court order. And this is extraordinarily dangerous."

Earlier this month, the FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates also complained that encyption of Internet and cell phone data makes it more difficult for them to find the bad guys.

Personal privacy and Internet security "are not absolute," Yates told Congress. "And they have to be balanced against the risks we face from creating warrant-proof zones of communication."

Privacy advocates disagree.

Dickerson asked Feinstein on Sunday if this is the "new state of affairs" in the U.S., where encryption can stymie the gathering of critical intelligence.

"I think to a great extent it is," Feinstein replied. "This concerns me very greatly. I have met with the chief counsels of the Internet companies, pointed this out, asked for help. There is also on the Internet a stack of documents that tell you how to make a bomb that goes through a magnetometer, where to sit on the plane to blow it up, suggests some people to kill, and is extraordinarily dangerous.

"I have asked the Internet companies to take that off. They will not do it unless they are mandated to do it by law. So you have a predetermined kind of propaganda effort that with a few clicks somebody can get to." She called it sophisticated and seductive.

"I have said before we're either going to fight them there or we're going to fight them here," Feinstein said about Islamic terrorists.

"And whether degrade and destroy is enough, I think the jury is out. We have been counting on our Sunni Arab neighbors to help. And, candidly, there's been some help, but clearly not enough.

"So, I think this is a constant battle and will be a constant battle. And we have to understand that there are lots of people out there who are going to succumb to the words of the propaganda and try to do these kind of things."


In a separate interview with Raddatz, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the FBI is doing a forensics examination on the suspect's computer, cell phone, and his travel to Jordan, which is right across the border from Syria.

"So we have the threat of foreign fighters, but we also have the threat over the Internet, which is a new sort of threat that's out there, a new generation of terrorists as you heard Director Comey talk about. These Internet directives from a cyber command if you will, out of Syria to activate people in the United States to attack.

And what they are saying is attack military installations and attack police officers. And what we saw was one of the most deadliest attacks on American soil against our U.S. marines and an American sailor.

"And this is case that we're most worried about. We have followed quite a few cases. We have over 60 cases that we've rolled up ISIS followers over the last year. That's more than one per week.

"We have investigations into all 50 states. But what keeps us up at night are really the ones that we don't know about. And I'm afraid that this case falls into that category."

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