MERCED, Calif. - Fears of terrorism sprung up almost immediately after the attacks at UC Merced were over on Wednesday. But UC Merced's Chancellor Dorothy Leland and Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said stabbing suspect Faisal Mohammad was not associated with any terrorism groups. They said his motivation to attack was his own.
The organization called Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) which monitors ISIS and other terrorist-related groups on social media said there may have been support for Faisal Mohammed from users who like the violent group.
Veryan Khan with TRAC said they put Faisal Mohammed's name in Arabic in Twitter and found links to his name to people who support ISIS. At this point, however, it's unknown if Mohammed was even Muslim. Chancellor Leland said it would be irresponsible to draw conclusions based on his ethnicity.
"Based on the evidence gathered so far which include the crime scene and the suspect's campus dormitory room, we have no reason to believe that this was in any way related to terrorism," stated Leland.
Mohammad's life leading up to the stabbings is now under the microscope of some of the most sophisticated law enforcement agencies in the country. Investigators said Wednesday's stabbing spree could have been far worse.
Khan said, "The initial tweets were favorable of his actions, but I would not necessarily be able to link them to Islamic State (ISIS). What I can link is some of the retweets coming from those initial tweets looked very sympathetic to Islamic State, based on their followers and other things that they have tweeted in the past."
But Sheriff Warnke said any online chatter from groups like ISIS should be ignored.
"Anytime that somebody's doing what this individual did here, we're gonna get some kind of comment from them and, but as far as any link, there's no link that we have at all to this," stated Warnke.
Some UC Merced students believe emotional issues may have driven Wednesday's attacks.
Sophomore Noe Ramirez-Ontiveros said, "Clearly it has nothing to do with that. No, I think he was just a troubled kid that needed help."
The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno said the climate created by terror groups like ISIS creates a climate of fear, and true Muslims strongly oppose violence.
Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini said, "Mainstream Muslims believe that ISIS is actually violating our faith, the tenants of our faith. Most victims of ISIS are Muslims, and Muslim individuals, scholars, organizations, have condemned acts of ISIS all the time and any act of violence."
Warnke said the FBI did extensive background on Mohammed and his family, and they found there was no political agenda or religious motivation for Mohammed's alleged actions on Wednesday.