Biden calls Chattanooga shooter a 'perverted jihadist'

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Biden: Chattanooga Gunman a 'Perverted Jihadist'


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday called the slaying of four Marines and a sailor at a Chattanooga reserve center the act of a "perverted jihadist."

Biden's comments came at a memorial to the five servicemen killed in a shooting rampage by Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

SEE ALSO: Chattanooga shooting: Navy plans armed guards for reserve centers

"These perverse ideologues, warped theocrats, they may be able to inspire a single lone wolf to commit a savage act, but they can never, never threaten who we are," Biden said. "When this perverted jihadist struck, everyone responded."

The vice president's strong words contrast with the official comments of investigators who have not yet been able to determine a motive behind the attack. The FBI has said it has not been able to determine whether the 24-year-old Abdulazeez was "radicalized" before the July 16 attacks and has been treating him as a homegrown violent extremist.

Speaking before Biden, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said officials may never know "what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism and hateful ideology" was behind the shooting, but vowed that the United States would present a strong response.

"The few who threaten or incite harm to Americans — violent extremists or terrorists, wherever they are — will surely, very surely, no matter how long it takes, come to feel the long arm and the hard fist of justice," Carter said.

Those killed were Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith and four Marines: Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan and Lance Cpt. Squire "Skip" Wells, who just moments before had texted his girlfriend in Savannah, Georgia, the words "ACTIVE SHOOTER."

Abdulazeez began the July 16 rampage by opening fire on a military recruiting center before driving his rented Mustang about 7 miles across town to a reserve center, crashing through the gates and killing the five servicemen. Abdulazeez died in a shootout with police.

Photos from the horrific shooting in Chattanooga:

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Tennessee Naval Center shooting
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Biden calls Chattanooga shooter a 'perverted jihadist'
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Evidence markers sit on the ground at the scene of a shooting in the parking lot of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
This April 2015 booking photo released by the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office shows a man identified as Mohammad Youssduf Adbulazeer after being detained for a driving offense. A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity identified the gunman in shootings at two Chattanooga military facilities as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who shares the same age and address as the man in the photo. (Hamilton County Sheriffs Office via AP)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: An angel statue sits in a makeshift memorial near the scene of a shooting at a Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Zach, Zoe and Melissa Cates add to a makeshift memorial near the scene of a shooting at a Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: A makeshift memorial is sits outside of the scene of a shooting at a Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Chattanooga Mayor Andy Burke (R) speaks as Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (L) and Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher (2nd L) listen during a press conference at the 911 Communications Center on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher during a press conference at the 911 Communications Center on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher (R) speaks as Chattanooga Mayor Andy Burke (L), Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (2nd L) listen during a press conference at the 911 Communications Center on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam speaks during a press conference at the 911 Communications Center on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Bullet holes are seen in the glass of a Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 16: Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team work the scene of a shooting in the parking lot of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard recruitment office on July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on a military recruiting station at a strip mall and then killed four U.S. Marines at an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy at another location more than seven miles away, where the gunmen himself was also killed. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
An investigator searches under a vehicle parked outside an Armed Forces Career Center,Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A gunman opened fire outside the building Thursday morning. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
In this frame from video, law enforcement officers surround a house in Hixson, Tenn., Thursday, July 16, 2015. A gunman unleashed a barrage of fire at two sites a few miles apart in Chattanooga, killing several, officials said. The attacker was also killed. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz)
The windows of the Armed Forces Recruitment Center have several bullet holes from a shooting as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tenn. At least two military facilities in Tennessee were attacked in shootings Thursday. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks during a meeting with FBI Director James Comey (R) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 16, 2015, on the shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. US President Barack Obama said the 'heartbreaking' shootings in Chattanooga that killed four Marines appeared to be the work of a lone gunman. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer investigates outside the Armed Forces Career Center after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Authorities say there were multiple casualties including the gunman. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Map locates two shooting sites. (via AP)
Police officers enter the Armed Forces Career Center through a bullet-riddled door after a gunman opened fire on the building Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Authorities say there were multiple casualties including the gunman. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Paul Clendenen guards the top of the C.B. Robinson Bridge at Amnicola Highway after a morning shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015.Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said there's "an officer down" at a military reserve center. (Tim Barber/ChattanoogaTimes Free Press via AP)
In this image made from video and released by WRCB-TV, authorities work an active shooting scene on amincola highway near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says police are pursuing an active shooter after reports of a shooting at the military reserve center. (WRCB-TV via AP) 
In this image made from video and released by WRCB-TV, authorities work an active shooting scene on amincola highway near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says police are pursuing an active shooter after reports of a shooting at the military reserve center. (WRCB-TV via AP)
A highway patrolman stands guard atop the C.B. Robinson Bridge as police and emergency vehicles crowd Amnicola Highway after a morning shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said there's "an officer down" at a military reserve center. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Police and emergency vehicles block Amnicola Highway after a morning shooting near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said there's "an officer down" at a military reserve center. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Reserve Recruitment personnel stand outside a Navy recruiting building as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tenn. At least two military facilities in Tennessee were attacked in shootings Thursday, including one at a Navy recruiting building, officials said. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Chattanooga police talk to Reserve Recruitment Center personnel at the Lee Hwy office as the area is cordoned off with blue shell casing markers in the parking lot on Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tenn. At least two military facilities in Tennessee were attacked in shootings Thursday, including one at a Navy recruiting building, officials said. (Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP) 
Store employees look out their door next to the Reserve Recruitment Center as the area is cordoned off after a shooting on Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tenn. At least two military facilities in Tennessee were attacked in shootings Thursday, including one at a Navy recruiting building, officials said. (Tim Barber/ChattanoogaTimes Free Press via AP)
In this image made from video and released by WRCB-TV, authorities work an active shooting scene on amincola highway near the Naval Reserve Center, in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke says police are pursuing an active shooter after reports of a shooting at the military reserve center. (WRCB-TV via AP) 
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Friends and neighbors recalled Abdulazeez as a happy, polite young man. But a picture has also emerged showing a darker side, with Abdulazeez's family saying he struggled with depression from his early teens, abused drugs, couldn't keep a job and was considering bankruptcy.

Abdulazeez spent several months with an uncle in Jordan last year as part of an agreement to get him away from drugs, alcohol and a group of friends his parents considered a bad influence, a person close to the family has said. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid business repercussions.

Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in May, said he could relate to the grief of the victims' families.

"I didn't have the privilege of knowing any one of them personally," Biden said. "But oh, I knew them. Confident, determined, trustworthy, compassionate and always, always loyal."

"I knew them," he said. "They were my son. And so many other sons I know."

Beau Biden was a major in an Army National Guard unit that deployed to Iraq in 2008.

The vice president drew applause for concluding his remarks with a defiant message for anyone who would target the United States.

"We have a message for those perverted cowards around the world: America never yields, never bends, never cowers, never stands down — (but) endures, responds, and always overcomes," he said. "For we are Americans, and never, never underestimate us.

"It's always been a bad, bad bet to do that."

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Biden calls Chattanooga shooter a 'perverted jihadist'
Vice President Joe Biden, center, pauses alongside his family as they to enter a visitation for his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Standing with Biden are his son Hunter, from left, granddaughter Natalie, daughter-in-law Hallie, grandson Hunter and wife Jill. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
An honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden as members of the Biden family, left, look on, Thursday, June 4, 2015, before a viewing at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Natalie Biden, center, is comforted by her grandfather, Vice President Joe Biden, and her mother Hallie as they follow an honor guard carrying a casket containing the remains of her father, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
An honor guard carries a casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden as members of the Biden family follow behind, Thursday, June 4, 2015, before a viewing at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Natalie Biden, left, is comforted by her grandfather, Vice President Joe Biden, and her mother Hallie as they follow an honor guard carrying a casket containing the remains of her father, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Vice President Joe Biden, bottom center, leads his family to a viewing for his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Walking alongside Biden are his granddaughter Natalie, from bottom left, daughter-in-law Hallie, grandson Hunter and wife Jill. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Mourners file past a casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, during a viewing, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Biden, the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
An honor guard guides a casket containing the remains of former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden out of Legislative Hall in Dover, Del., Thursday, June 4, 2015, after a visitation. Biden, the vice president's eldest son, died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Vice President Joe Biden, left, greets mourners near a casket containing the remains of Biden's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, during a viewing, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Vice President Joe Biden, left, hugs a mourner as they stand near a casket containing the remains of Biden's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, during a viewing, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, right, rests his head in his hand during a viewing for his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Standing with Vice President Biden are Beau Biden's widow, Hallie, from left, and daughter Natalie, and the the vice president's wife Jill. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Vice President Joe Biden rests his hand on a flag-draped casket containing the remains of his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden during a visitation, Thursday, June 4, 2015, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets people waiting in line to view Biden's son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, Thursday, June 4, 2015, as he leaves Legislative Hall in Dover, Del. Beau Biden died of brain cancer Saturday at age 46. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
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