BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The FBI is trying to piece together what motivated a 24-year-old man to go on a deadly rampage at a military reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren how Maryland intercepted a similar plot.
Emotions are raw in Chattanooga, but it’s not the first time a military recruiting center turned a target.
WJZ extensively covered a failed bomb plot in 2010 at a recruiting center in Baltimore County.
Antonio Martinez, who later changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, tried to wage his own jihad in Maryland, but federal agents were already tracking him before he pulled an SUV he thought contained a bomb in front of the Catonsville storefront.
“We need to do everything we can to intercept people who intend to commit hostile acts in the United States. He intended, in fact, to kill people. He intended to do damage,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
The Tennessee attacks have prompted increased security at military installations in Maryland–and nationwide.
“We’ve been checking IDs and making sure our people are vigilant in all of the things that they do,” said Col. Charles Kohler, Maryland National Guard.
The Army’s chief of staff says security at recruiting centers is being reviewed, but allowing those inside to carry weapons could pose legal challenges.
“It’s easy for us to be targeted by anybody who’s against the military or a radicalist,” said Sgt. Joe Cortez, Air Force recruiter.
During a visit to Baltimore last month, FBI Director James Comey addressed homegrown terrorism.
“We are working those cases, trying to evaluate those people to see where they are on a journey from consuming propaganda that’s coming through social media to acting on that propaganda and killing someone,” said Comey.
But it does not appear the man behind the Tennessee attacks was on their radar, and that raises alarm about easy military targets all around us.
“These military people standing, recruiting, getting like kind to defend our country, and they’re not defended themselves,” said Bill Gavin, former assistant director, FBI.
You see these recruiting centers at strip malls all around Maryland. By design, they’re supposed to be welcoming to recruits, but federal authorities have to strike the right balance to keep those inside safe.
A Maryland-based group that tracks terrorist organizations says the Tennessee gunman kept a blog where he posted about religion and wrote that life is “short and bitter.”