Faisal Mohammad, the California college student who last week stabbed four people, was carrying an image of the black flag of Islamic State (ISIS) as well as a handwritten manifesto with instructions to behead a student and multiple reminders to pray to Allah, Fox News revealed on Wednesday.
However, according to the report, authorities continue to insist Mohammad's motives had nothing to do with radical Islam.
The 18-year-old, who was killed by a campus police officer to end the attack last Wednesday morning, was a loner who was incensed at being booted from a study group, according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. But the extreme way Mohammad dealt with his rage, the presence of the printout of ISIS’s black flag and the deadly plans spelled out in the two-page document he carried could indicate there was more to the attack than simple rejection.
"This fits exactly with what ISIS is looking for, individuals to go and do an act of terrorism unilaterally," Patrick Dunleavy, former deputy inspector general of the New York State Police Criminal Intelligence Unit, told Fox News.
"The fact that he may have been kicked out of a study group does not preclude this being a lone wolf act. It only needs some sort of trigger, which could be totally unrelated to Islam, that causes him to act on his rage and attribute it to Allah," he added.
Dunleavy likened the case to the case of Alton Nolen, who allegedly beheaded a former co-worker at a food plant in Oklahoma City in 2014. While he was angry over a workplace issue, his actions were likely the result of radicalization, said Dunleavy.
"ISIS is not looking for a few good men; one crazy will do," he told Fox News. "This is what a lone wolf looks like."
The printout of the ISIS flag was reported Tuesday by the Merced Sun-Star, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity a day earlier. The official also told the local newspaper Mohammad’s manner of dress during the attack and some of the websites he may have visited in the days leading up to the incident ultimately led local authorities to hand control of the investigation over to the FBI.
Warnke confirmed that decision, saying “new information” had been discovered on Saturday about Mohammad, who was shot and killed by police during the episode.
While the unnamed law enforcement official who spoke with the Sun-Star didn’t directly say the flag was related to the attack, ISIS is known to be recruiting U.S. citizens directly and attempting to inspire lone wolf attacks within the country. The group’s social media savvy is well documented.
In fact, American authorities over the past year or so have arrested and charged several people of supporting ISIS.
These included a 16-year-old accused of planning to join the group and who was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm in South Carolina, having been charged with this offense as South Carolina has no anti-terrorism laws.
His conviction followed the arrest of six Somali Americans from Minnesota who allegedly planned to travel to Syria to join ISIS.
FoxNews.com reported Friday that the manifesto found on Mohammad included numerous reminders to pray to Allah and a pledge to behead one victim. A backpack carried by Mohammad, who was shot and killed by campus police on a nearby bridge, contained zip-tie handcuffs and duct tape. Authorities later found two pages of handwritten notes on him, detailing his plans in oddly numbered order, according to investigators.