FBI: Attacker of UC Merced stabbings viewed terrorist propaganda, may have ‘self-radicalized’ with ISIS

REGIONAL (KRON) — A student at the University of California, Merced, who stabbed four people on campus in a classroom before a campus police officer shot and killed him, is learned to have attacked after viewing terrorist propaganda.

His viewing of terrorist propaganda is looked upon as possible inspiration to the attack, and may have “self-radicalized” himself, the FBI said.

Police initially characterized the November 4, 2015 stabbings as the misguided acts of a disgruntled student. The FBI now says Faisal Mohammad, 18, before the attack, had visited websites for ISIS and other terrorist organizations that supported the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL.

The agency said Thursday that Mohammad had pro-ISIS propaganda on his laptop and the image of an ISIS flag in his backpack. Investigators said “he may have self-radicalized and drawn inspiration from terrorist propaganda.”

The federal agency’s Fresno Area Joint Terrorism Task Force responded to the scene and opened an investigation that included interviews and inspection of Mohammad’s electronics, according to the FBI.

In the weeks leading up to the attack, Mohammad visited websites of ISIL and other extremist groups, according to FBI.

The investigation also indicated he started getting ready for the attack a week before on his own, FBI officials said.

Mohammad wore a backpack during the attack that carried a two-page handwritten manifesto on his plans to take in hostages and kill students and police officers, according to the FBI.

The backpack also contained a copy of an ISIL flag, FBI officials said.

Handcuffs, zip ties, two clear bags of petroleum jelly, a safety hammer and duct tape were also found in the bag, according to Merced County sheriff’s officials.

There were no signs that Mohammad had any co-conspirators or links with foreign terrorist organizations, but investigators noted they might never learn why he attacked people on the campus, according to the FBI.

The victims were two students, a staff member and a contractor who were all treated for their injuries, UC Merced officials said.

“We are relieved to finally have resolution to this very tragic event on the UC Merced campus. This concludes the investigation, which was a cooperative effort that could not have been as successful without the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a statement Thursday.

“I am proud of the way our campus community came together in the aftermath of this incident, and the kindness displayed by so many only reinforced what I already knew to be true about UC Merced. Now, we move to the task of further healing and taking care of the needs of our students,
staff and faculty,” Leland said.

This instance brings the number of attacks in the United States inspired by ISIS to five.

Bay City News and CNN contributed to this report.

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