A California college student who stabbed four people before being killed by police last year was inspired by the Islamic State group – also known as ISIS – the FBI said late Thursday. Faisal Mohammad was probably “self-radicalized” and was not in direct contact with the militant group, authorities reportedly said.
The FBI released a statement saying a review of the attacker’s electronic devices found that he was motivated by terrorist propaganda he found online before launching the Nov. 4 attack at the University of California, Merced. The agency reportedly said Mohammad visited ISIS and other extremist websites just weeks before the attack.
“Every indication is that Mohammad acted on his own,” Gina Swankie, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Sacramento field office, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “It may never be possible to definitively determine why he chose to attack people on the U.C. Merced Campus.”
Daniel Mayfield, an attorney representing Mohammad’s family, told The Los Angeles Times that the FBI’s discovery of ISIS propaganda “was new information.” He also said that the nature of the pro-ISIS propaganda on Mohammad’s computer was unclear from the FBI’s brief statement.
“It could be anything from a 17-year-old trolling the Internet to a class assignment to something nefarious,” Mayfield told the Times. “What can you say… until we get the computers back?”
The news of the ISIS links comes nearly four months after the San Bernardino attack that was carried out by a couple, who, like Mohammad, did not raise any red flags that put them on a watch list, and are also believed to be self-radicalized but inspired by ISIS. On Dec. 2, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a staff training event, killing 14 people.