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Authorities in Washington say their investigation so far gives them no reason to believe Navy Yard shooting suspect Aaron Alexis, 34, is linked to organized terror even though just two days earlier, al-Qaida’s leader had called for a “lone wolf” attack on Washington.
The attack Monday at the Washington Navy Yard left 13 dead, including Alexis, a military contractor, authorities said. Authorities said the motive was unclear and authorities even still wondered whether the gunman was alone, or whether there were others involved.
At the Debkafile intelligence report, a submission Monday said, “Two days ago al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri issued a videotaped call for an adherent to carry out a ‘lone wolf attack’ inside the United States.”
And at the Washington Free Beacon, a report from Bill Gertz confirmed that several online jihadists were linking Islamists to the violence.
He reported, “Several jihadists wrote in Arabic on Twitter shortly after the shooting began around 8:20 a.m. ET that it appeared to be motivated by Islamist extremism. Some used the hashtag ‘Al Qaeda’ to report news of the shooting.”
He continued, “Some jihadists said the shooting was part of global jihad but none indicated inside knowledge of the killings, suggesting the comments are probably speculation or propaganda.”
He reported one jihadist on Twitter “said the attacks took place close to the 12th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington and thus appeared to be linked to Islamism.”
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray affirmed that there is no evidence to link the attack to Islamist terror, but he told the Washington Post he could not rule it out.
While Gertz noted there was no immediate claim of responsibility from known terror groups, he reported a jihadist named Idaat Amniyah (@abdallahsaker) who claimed to be part of the Middle East group Fatah al-Islam stated that the shooting showed “we have moved from the defensive to the offensive stage” of global jihad.
Gertz identified another jihadist, Abu-Osama al-Muwahhid (@ab_osama1), who tweeted praise for the attack.
Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said for a time police were seeking two others as possible suspects, but one was found and ruled out. The third person still remained of interest to authorities.
She reported “multiple pieces of information” raised the prospect of more than one suspect involved.
The Debkafile further said that the participation of more than one gunman would point to a coordinated attack.
The target was a base where about 3,000 service members are assigned, and it’s only a couple of miles from the Capitol.
Larry O’Daniel, a member of the 250,000-strong National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition’s Counter Terror Committee, said his group concluded that Zawahiri has great influence on al-Qaida’s tactics.
Noting that Gertz had reported as early as January that an al-Qaida website was lobbying for attacks on the U.S., O’Daniel said the warning was “strikingly similar” to Zawahiri’s statements.
“In February, WND reported that CIA asset ‘Reza Kahlili’ alleged Iran was targeting American utilities including cell towers, power utilities, water supplies, high voltage towers, and public transportation,” O’Daniel’s report said.
“Also in January, Mohammad al Zawahiri, younger brother to Ayman, echoed the jihadist call for action against a number of countries, roughly equivalent to those mentioned later in August 2013, who helped France as outlined in the Gertz article. Zawahiri asked for help from ‘all Muslim brothers’ as part of Quranic duty,” he said.
The report noted Zawahiri did give specific instructions.
O’Daniel’s report said while some interpreted Zawahiri’s call for lone wolf attacks as a sign of weakness, his coalition found that al-Qaida’s forte is a decentralized leadership group “providing aid, resources, guidance, and other assets for localized allied groups who carry out reconnaissance and actual attacks.”
“History shows that 19 well trained men killed almost 3000 persons on 9/11/01. A small well trained group came close to killing many times that number in the first WTC attack in early 1993. Al Qaida uses well trained small groups. They are good in putting in place sleeper cells with no prior law enforcement exposure to slip under security radar,” the report said.