Uncle of Chattanooga Shooter Detained in Jordan over Nephew's Visit Last Year: Report
"Muhammad is just his relative," the uncle's lawyer says. "That's it"
The uncle of the man accused of killing five military service members in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week has been detained in Jordan, according to multiple reports.
Little is known about 24-year-old Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who also died in Thursday’s attacks on two military facilities. His family has said that he struggled with depression and substance abuse, and that those demons are to blame for the shootings.
Abdulazeez spent time in Jordan last year with his uncle Asaad Ibrahim Asaad Haj Ali, who took the young man in to help him get clean, his family says. But now that uncle, who has reportedly been detained since Friday, is being investigated for the visit, a Jordanian official told the Associated Press.
While a Jordanian embassy spokesman would not confirm to PEOPLE that Haj Ali was detained, he did confirm he’s being questioned.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and is very sensitive, and we cannot discuss details of the investigation,” spokesman Dana Zureikat Daoud tells PEOPLE.
The investigation is being conducted in conjunction with U.S. authorities, sources told CNN.
An official, who spoke to the AP under the condition of anonymity, said that authorities are “trying to get as much information as possible” from Haj Ali. They also interviewed other family members, but the uncle is the only one who has been detained. He has not been charged with any crimes, his lawyer, Abed al-Kader Ahmad al-Khateeb, emphasized.
“The uncle is a regular person, he has a company, he is a businessman, he has no relation with any militant group or organization,” al-Khateeb said. “He cares about his work and his family, and Muhammad is just his relative, the son of his sister. That’s it.”
Al-Khateeb also confirmed that electronics were taken from his client’s home.
Authorities in the United States have yet to establish a motive in the killings, which are being investigated as domestic terrorism.
In a statement, Abdulazeez’s family offered their prayers for the victims.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the honorable service members and police officers who were victims of the shooting our son committed on Thursday in Chattanooga, Tennessee – our community, and one we have loved for over twenty-five years,” the family said.
“The person who committed this horrible crime was not the son we knew and loved.”
• Reporting by SUSAN KEATING
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