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Suspect in slaying of US Marines in Chattanooga made 2014 trip to Jordan

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The FBI said Friday that the gunman who opened fire on two military facilities in Chattanooga and killed four Marines had at least two long guns and one handgun, and that investigators were examining his international travel. Some of the gun purchases were legal and some were not, FBI agent Ed Reinhold said at a news conference Friday. He said investigators were also looking at all of the overseas travel of 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who was killed by police. Investigators are trying to understand why the Kuwait-born man opened fire on the US military sites and raised the specter of terrorism on US soil. Abdulazeez did not appear to have been on the radar of federal authorities before the bloodshed Thursday, officials said. But now counterterrorism investigators are taking a deep look at his online activities and foreign travel, searching for clues to his political views or influences. The gunman opened fire on Thursday at a Marine-Navy reserve facility. The FBI, which is leading the investigation into the attacks, said he was wearing a load-bearing vest that allowed him to move about while carrying additional ammunition. The US Attorney in eastern Tennessee said the attacks were being treated as a terrorism investigation. Bill Killian said Thursday that investigators will “let the facts and the evidence lead us where it may.” A relative of Abdulazeez said he has family in the West Bank and that he visited Jordan last year. The relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person feared repercussions, said Abdulazeez was a “nice, educated guy.” Abdulazeez met the relative for the first time during his visit to Jordan last year, and the two spoke for about an hour. During that time, the relative saw no hints of violence. The relative said his parents are both from the West Bank and that the family are mainstream Muslims, not fundamentalists. The person says “they fast, they pray and that is it.” Residents in the quiet neighborhood in Hixson, Tennessee, where Abdulazeez lived in a two-story home, said they would see him walking along the wide streets or doing yard work. One neighbor recalled Abdulazeez giving him a ride home when he became stranded in a snowstorm. “It’s kind of a general consensus from people that interacted with him that he was just your average citizen there in the neighborhood. There was no reason to suspect anything otherwise,” said Ken Smith, a city councilman who met with neighbors Thursday night.

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China late on Friday deported the lone Indian arrested on unspecified charges in Inner Mongolia, bringing to an end 72 hours of hard negotiations between Indian diplomats and local officials who caught him with 19 other foreigners for allegedly watching banned videos. The fate of the remaining three South African citizens remains unknown. RK Kulshreshta was put up on a late flight on Friday night with Indian officials escorting from the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia in northern China. The charges against 46-year-old Kulshrehta, a garment businessman, remain unspecified. “We are still trying to find out what the charges are against him,” an Indian official claimed. The focus was to get him released, officials said. The Indian embassy here released a statement announcing the decision by the Chinese government. “The Indian national who was detained in Inner Mongolia was brought to Beijing last evening and was allowed to leave for India by a flight in early hours of this morning, the statement said. It added: “The Embassy of India was in close touch with the concerned authorities in Beijing and Inner Mongolia, and facilitated the release and repatriation of the Indian national. Counsellor (Consular) and other Embassy officials were also given consular access to him. Embassy officials were at the airport at the time of departure.” On Friday evening, China had released five Britons including two who had dual South African citizenship. “The Chinese authorities have said that the remaining three British nationals and the two dual nationals detained in Ordos will be deported shortly,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

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