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July 23, 2015

A Conspicuous Omission

The July 16, 2015 murder of four United States Marines and a sailor at two different military sites in Tennessee by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, which the FBI is reportedly investigating as an act of terrorism, has attracted considerable media coverage. Yet, in reporting the shooter’s background and self-proclaimed “search for answers”, The Washington Post failed to note specifically what may be an important aspect: prior investigations of links between Abdulazeez’s father and U.S. listed-terror organization Hamas.

The New York Times (“Inquiry Focusing on Chattanooga Gunman’s Trip to Jordan in 2014,” July 17) reported that Abdulazeez’s father, Youssuf “had been investigated about seven years ago” for “giving money to an organization that apparently had ties to Hamas, the Islamic militant group in Gaza that the United States and other Western nations consider a terrorist organization.” The Times also noted “a similar investigation was conducted in the 1990s” into Abdulazeez’s father and -- although neither investigation led to charges -- he was placed on a watch list for a time.

The Washington Post failed in print to note the purported connection to Hamas—the virulently Islamist organization ruling the Gaza Strip. In an article exploring the Chattanooga gunman’s background and more specifically his family, (“Chattanooga Gunman came from a middle class Muslim Family,” July 17) the newspaper states without further details that the father “was investigated by the FBI several years ago and put on the terrorism watch list but was later removed.”

Other printed articles by the newspaper offer a bit more specifics, noting that the investigation was for “donating to Palestinian groups suspected of having ties to terrorism” (“Marine’s killer set off no red flags,” July 18) and a “radical Palestinian terror group.” (Chattanooga Shooter’s real, online lives seem to take divergent paths,” July 18). But neither identified the group as Hamas.

A Lexis Nexis search reveals that the paper did identify the group—but only online in a blog piece that appeared shortly after the shooting (“As investigators probe motive in Chattanooga rampage, a portrait of the shooter emerges,” July 17).

Unmentioned by either newspaper is whether the investigation into Youssef was related to the biggest U.S. terrorism funding trial to date. At that trial's conclusion in 2009, U.S. Treasury officials connected what was once the nation’s largest Muslim charity—The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development—to fund raising for Hamas. Evidence introduced at trial also indicated that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was, like Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood derivative.

Although The Post failed to publish the purported Hamas connection, it noted that the murderer himself had no such compunction in mentioning the terror group. Abdulazeez reportedly “talked about…battles between Israel and Hamas in Gaza” with friends and even “blamed some of the bloodshed on U.S. foreign policy.” (“Tenn. Shooter struggled with clash of faith, drugs,” July 19).

The motives of the gunman are still being investigated, but The Post should have clarified in print the father’s apparent Holy Land Foundation-Hamas link.—Sean Durns


Posted by ER at July 23, 2015 04:24 PM

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