CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE — Assistant Lower Deputy FBI Field Officer John Willingham said in a press conference early Friday morning at a local Frank’s Hot Dogs and Coffee in Chattanooga, Tennessee that the race and presumed religion of Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the man who opened fire on two Chattanooga military facilities were ‘absolutely, positively vital’ in helping the bureau properly label the incident as “domestic terrorism.”
“Unlike the shooting in South Carolina a few weeks ago,” Willingham told the media outside the Chattanooga police station that the FBI had been using to conduct their operations out of, “this incident involved a person of color with a Muslim-sounding name.” Reporters asked if the FBI was committing a form of racism or even Islamaphobia, perhaps unwittingly, by calling this incident terrorism right away, but still not classifying the shooting at Charleston, South Carolina’s First Emanuel Church perpetrated by Dylann Storm Roof as terrorism, weeks afterward. “I can’t really speak to that, I just know that when the shooter has brown skin and a Muslim sounding name, it’s very clearly terrorism. But when it’s a white man declaring his racist intent just before opening fire on nine innocent black people, we need to be really cautious.”
Agent Willingham was sure to tell the press that he “wasn’t implying that either crime was more or less terroristy” than the other but that “it’s just obvious to anyone with two eyes that Muslim name equals terrorist and white boy doing terrorist type shit is maybe, sorta, kinda, perhaps terrorist-ish.”
“Obviously it would be ridiculous of us to deny the terror that Roof struck in the heart of his victims, and the black community, but can we really call him a terrorist at this point? I mean, he’s white and Christian, not brown and Muslim,” Willingham said before asking rhetorically, “can’t you see the predicament that puts us in?” Critics of FBI and law enforcement tactics have in the past noticed that incidents like the South Carolina shooting, or the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting that left dozens dead tend to get labeled as isolated incidents of violence, whereas the Boston Marathon Bombing and now this latest incident in Chattanooga get instantly labeled terrorism, and that the only difference — outside of the weapon of choice for the brothers who committed the bombings in Boston — seems to be the color of the assailants’ skin and their religion of choice.
Reporters asked if the FBI has an unwritten policy aimed at not upsetting Christians in America by not labeling acts like those perpetrated by Roof at First Emanuel as terrorism. “No, of course not,” Willingham said adding, “I’d be more inclined to just call it good ol’ fashioned American discrimination, intended or otherwise. I mean, let’s face it. We’re not all that sensitive as a people anyway, right? Half of us think that our president actually went around to other countries apologizing for the boorish behavior the guy before him’s administration that pretty much created in many American minds the idea that most Muslims are at least tacitly okay with terrorism, and the crazy part is even if that had happened, those same people don’t even think it should’ve been done.”
“So of course we’re not going to call Roof’s assault on the church in South Carolina a terrorist attack. There are still some who refuse to label what Tim McVeigh did to the Federal building in Oklahoma City a terrorist attack,” Willingham told the press. “I wish it wasn’t the case, but this country has some kind of sickness that forces us to treat homegrown terrorists differently than those who come from outside the country to do us harm. It doesn’t make sense, it’s completely unnecessary to draw a distinction, but this is America. If you want things to make sense in America…move to Canada.”
Abdulazeez was killed during the Chattanooga assault.