Tenn. shooting suspect followed al-Qaida leader: reports

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Chattanooga Shooter's Family Reveals Dark Personal Battles

Investigators exploring Chattanooga rampage gunman Muhammed Abdulazeez's Internet search history have discovered evidence that he followed a radical American al Qaeda militant, according to numerous reports.

Both ABC News and The New York Times reported late Monday that Abdulazeez followed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American al Qaeda leader who has been linked to earlier attacks on U.S. soil -- including the Fort Hood shooter and so-called Christmas "underwear bomber." Al-Awlaki remained a prominent figure even after he died in a drone strike in 2011, thanks to videos he was featured in.

See photos from last week's attack:

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Tenn. shooting suspect followed al-Qaida leader: reports
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)
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)
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)
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The news comes as Abdulazeez's family is trying to shed light on his personal struggles with mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, factors they believe may have contributed to last week's fatal attack on two military sites that has rocked Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Through a spokesperson, Abdulazeez's family members have revealed he suffered from depression and possibly bipolar disorder. His parents said their son's mental illness caused him to turn to drugs and alcohol. Eventually he was caught in a downward spiral of substance abuse.

Another focus of the FBI's investigation are his travels before the attack. Abdulazeez spent seven months in Jordan last year. His parents have said they sent him there to "get away from bad influences in U.S."

Investigators are looking into who he was in contact with while in Jordan. A report emerged late Monday that he had visited Qatar as well, but officials from that country responded Tuesday saying he only flew through the country.

Intelligence officials tell The New York Times that there was no evidence yet of Abdulazeez making contact with the Islamic State or other extremist groups in the region. They caution that testing of his computer and phone are ongoing, and could reveal crucial evidence.

"The person who committed this horrible crime was not the son we knew and loved. For many years, our son suffered from depression. It grieves us beyond belief to know that his pain found its expression in this heinous act of violence," his family said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Tennessee mourns the shooting victims:

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Chattanooga, Tennessee Shooting memorials, tributes
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Tenn. shooting suspect followed al-Qaida leader: reports
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Keari Anderson walks through the memorial near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. . The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 18: Ronald May prays as he supports a cross at a memorial setup in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there and a Navy sailor. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Ron Fahy and Misty Fahy hold a sign that reads,' American Lives Matter', as they attend a prayer service near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. . The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Vehicles flying American flags are seen as they arrive near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Jared Eldridge (L) and Zach Henderson fly American flags over highway 153 as they show their support for their country after four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor were killed on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: John Kennon (L) and Lilla Kennon attend the East Ridge United Methodist Church for a prayer service to honor the four Marines and one Navy sailor killed during a shooting on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Lilla Kennon wipes away tears as she attends the East Ridge United Methodist Church for a prayer service to honor the four Marines and one Navy sailor killed during a shooting on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Teresa Jennings (L) and Miranda Jennings hold candles as they attend the East Ridge United Methodist Church for a prayer service to honor the four Marines and one Navy sailor killed during a shooting on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Members of the Highways and Hedges Ministry prepare to setup a wooden cross near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. . The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 18: U.S. Navy sailor Evan Montgomery places American flags in a memorial setup in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 18: Christina Reed (L), Aaron Workman and Julia Morrison (R) pay their respects at a memorial setup at the entrance to the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center where four United States Marines and a Navy sailor were killed on July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 18: Joan Jones holds Isaiah Watson ,2, as they pay their respect at a memorial setup at the entrance to the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center where four United States Marines and a Navy sailor were killed on July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 18: A sign is seen among the memorial setup in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office on July 18, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Flowers and a sign are seen in the memorial near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. . The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 19: Toy soldiers are seen in the memorial setup near the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 19, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. . The gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove more than seven miles away to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor. The gunman was likely killed in a exchange of gunfire with the police. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Melissa Gallagher prays with her children as they pay their respects to those killed while visiting a memorial placed in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Johnny Stapp whose son just entered the Marine Corps. places flags in the memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Eli Arnold places an American flag in the memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Alicia Nerren (R) prays with her children as they pay their respects to those killed while visiting a memorial placed in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Laurie Norman is overcome with emotion as she pays her respects to those killed while visiting a memorial placed in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station on July 16th at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy and killed four United States Marines there, more than seven miles away, (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Blake Miller and his mother, Ashley Miller whose husband is a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps pay their respects to those killed while visiting a memorial placed in front of the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office which had been shot up on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy more than seven miles away and killed four United States Marines there. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CHATTANOOGA, TN - JULY 17: Miller-Motte Technical College students and others join in prayer across the highway from the strip mall where a gunman attacked the Armed Forces Career Center/National Guard Recruitment Office on July 17, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. According to reports, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the military recruiting station at the strip mall on July 16th and then drove to an operational support center operated by the U.S. Navy more than seven miles away and killed four United States Marines there. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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