TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Transcripts show Mahin Khan planned to attack Air Force recruiting centers in Tucson. They were part of the evidence that led to the 18 year old’s arrest on terrorism charges.
He was following a standard page from the ISIS playbook.
ISIS has urged followers in the US to seek out that sort of target, and there has been a string of attacks on the centers.
It's a frightening idea to think of anyplace in Tucson as a terror target, but investigators say Khan did talk about hitting Air Force recruiting offices. Here in this area, the recruiting offices are actually shared among several different services but this type of office is recognized as an easier target than a well secured base.
A gun battle with police killed an attacker and ended his assault on a recruiting center and Navy Support Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Four Marines and a Sailor died in those attacks last summer.
The Tennessee attacks were the fifth on a recruiting center since 2008, including two attacks in Washington DC, one in Arkansas and one in New York City. In all, six servicemen died and one was wounded.
ISIS websites call for this sort of attack.
Articles in publications for the military acknowledge recruiting sites are easier for attackers to reach because they are meant to be easy for potential recruits to reach.
Lt. Erin Ranaweera of Air Force Recruiting Command says it tries to strike the right balance of community access and security.
"We've done a lot of research to determine what would be the best security enhancement providing access to the public because our recruiters, that's their main job, to be accessible but also to maintain security for our personnel and then protect them from any potential vulnerabilities."
And she says between Air Force efforts and work by local authorities the recruiting centers are safe.
Mark Olson's office is a neighbor to a large recruiting center. He understands they have the potential to be a target.
"They have been for months ever since the last recruiting office got hit. But if they do, if they hit us, they hit us. We can't do anything about it. I'd rather have them here with me, than not."