Ted Cruz Calls Chattanooga Attacks an ‘Act of War,’ Calls For Fix to ‘Broken Immigration System’

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz / AP

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) labeled the attacks on two military centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Thursday that killed four U.S. Marines and injured three others an "act of war."

Cruz said in a statement Friday that Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the Kuwait-born suspected gunman in the attacks, traveled to the Army Recruiting Center and the Naval and Marine Reserve Center "to carry out jihad, an act of radical Islamic terrorism."

"We need to rid ourselves of two dangerous delusions," Cruz, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, explained, "first and foremost that a ‘lone gunman’ — as President Obama described the shooter — is somehow isolated from the larger threat of radical Islamic terrorism."

"In the modern world, no one acts in isolation," Cruz continued. "Through social media ISIS, al Qaeda, and other groups are infiltrating our nation with impunity while our government will not even admit that radical Islamic terrorism is a problem."

President Obama called the four deaths "heartbreaking" in a statement on the shootings Thursday, adding that the investigation has thus far revealed that "a lone gunman carried out these attacks."

However, Cruz urged the public not to dismiss such tragedies as "lone" incidents, connecting the Chattanooga shootings to attacks waged on military facilities in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Fort Hood, Texas, both of which occurred in 2009.

"The Obama administration was woefully reluctant to call either an act of radical Islamic terrorism, instead suggesting ‘workplace violence’ as a justification for the killings," Cruz said.

Cruz urged that the Senate Armed Services Committee hold immediate hearings regarding "the need for our enlisted men and women to have the right to be armed in military facilities."

The Texas lawmaker also called on Congress to pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, a bill that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow the government to prevent Americans traveling overseas to train with terrorist groups from returning to the U.S. to attack the homeland.

"We can thoroughly overhaul our broken immigration system that is allowing this type of individual to gain citizenship," Cruz suggested. "And we can accept the reality that while we might wish it otherwise, the forces of radical Islam are at war with us."

As of Thursday, investigators were treating the Chattanooga attacks as an "act of domestic terrorism," according to  U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

Officials said Friday that they believe the 24-year-old gunman, who was born in Kuwait before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, traveled to Jordan last year and possibly Yemen. His father, Youssuf Abdulazeez, was investigated twice in an FBI terror funding investigation but was cleared of wrongdoing.

The alleged shooter, who was killed Thursday, was not listed on any U.S. terror watch list, law enforcement officials said.

The victims in the attacks have been identified as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells. A police officer and a Marine Corps recruiter wounded in the shootings suffered non-lifethreatening injuries.

UPDATE 11:20 A.M., Sat., July 18: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the number of injured individuals as two. One of the injured individuals, a sailor, died early Saturday.