Wednesday 23 May 2018

Chattanooga shootings: Barack Obama in vow to protect military personnel

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the 116th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh (AP)
US President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the 116th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh (AP)

President Barack Obama has insisted the US will keep doing everything in its power to protect American military personnel after last week's killing of five troops in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Mr Obama was speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Pittsburgh.

He said the US honours the four Marines and one sailor killed, and said the nation is drawing strength from Chattanooga as it sends an unmistakable message that the US will not give in to fear or attempts to change the American way of life.

Mr Obama said the US must remain vigilant in protecting the homeland. He said details about the Chattanooga attack are not yet clear, but Islamic State and al-Qaida have encouraged attacks on US soil, including against American troops.

The president said small terrorist cells and so-called "lone wolves" are hard to prevent.

Meanwhile, Qatar has said Chattanooga gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez transited through the Gulf state on his way back from a visit to Jordan but never set foot outside the airport.

Qatar's government media office made the comments following news reports that Abdulazeez had visited the country.

The statement said Abdulazeez changed planes at Doha's Hamad International Airport on his way to the United States in November 2014. It added that statements suggesting "Abdulazeez entered the state of Qatar are false".

Abdulazeez's uncle has been in custody in Jordan since a day after the attack.

His lawyer Abdel Qader al-Khatib said he was barred from seeing his client and that family members were prevented from visiting. Al-Khatib identified his client as Asaad Ibrahim Abdulazeez Haj Ali, a maternal uncle of Abdulazeez.

Abdulazeez spent several months in Jordan last year, and a Jordanian government official said today that some of his relatives there are being questioned as part of an investigation into his stay in the kingdom.

The US flag on the White House is flying at half-mast in remembrance of the five personnel who were killed.

Mr Obama issued an order today to lower the flag, following similar moves at the US Capitol and even by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The order also followed criticism of the White House.

US flags flown at all public buildings and grounds, including military posts, will fly at half-mast until sunset on Saturday.

Press Association

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