It is looking increasingly likely that Faisal Mohammad, the knife-wielding assailant who was shot and killed by police after stabbing four people at the University of California, Merced, last Wednesday, was motivated by quite a bit more than disappointment over being kicked out of a study group.
Local authorities have decided to hand over control of the criminal investigation to the FBI after “new information” about Mohammad came to light on Saturday, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.
“I’m not at liberty to discuss the information, but the developments on Saturday caused us to turn that over to (UC Merced) and the FBI will assist them,” Warnke said.
A law enforcement official, who spoke to the Sun-Star on condition of anonymity, said the information included questions about the manner in which Mohammad was dressed during the Nov. 4 attack and the types of websites he may have visited in the weeks and days before. Additionally, the official said, investigators found a printout of an image of an Islamic State flag among Mohammad’s belongings.
The note, he said, expressed the teen’s anger over having been kicked out of a study group. The sheriff told a crowd of reporters Thursday “there is nothing to indicate this was anything other than a teenage boy who got upset with fellow classmates.”
Last Friday, the Merced County News reported on a number of unsubstantiated details that were based on the claims of anonymous law enforcement sources. Among the uncorroborated claims in the report was that the suspect had been on the FBI’s terrorist watch list, and was known to local authorities. MCN was the first paper to report that an ISIS flag picture was found among Mohammad’s belongings:
A witness who wishes to remain anonymous stated that they had seen what appeared to be a picture of an ISIS flag which was pulled out of the suspect’s pocket.
According to the MCN report, two law enforcement sources verified “that this is in fact true”:
[T]he UC Chancellor along with the FBI and DHS have instructed our local media and our local law enforcement leaders to feed the current narrative that FM was a disgruntled student instead of what he actually was … an extremist Muslim bent on attacking American students in the name of ISIS.