Motive a mystery in car explosion at Travis Air Force Base
Federal investigators on Friday said that the person who drove a burning minivan filled with propane and gas tanks into the front gate of Travis Air Force Base in Northern California was a 51-year-old Bay Area man originally from India.
Hafiz Kazi was a legal permanent resident and had lived in the United States since 1993, said Sean Ragan, FBI special agent in charge of the Sacramento field office. Kazi had lived in the Bay Area, including Sausalito, Ragan said, but his most recent place of residence was not known.
Investigators have yet to determine a motive for the Wednesday night attack or evidence that anyone else was involved.
“We don’t have any nexus of terrorism at this point,” Ragan said, adding that aspect of the case was still being investigated. “Now the question is, why. Why was he there? What led him there? And we don’t know answers to that, quite frankly.”
Kazi drove the Kia minivan through the front gate of the military base, which is near Fairfield, around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Security personnel saw flames inside the van, which crashed shortly after going through the gate, Ragan said.
Emergency responders initially did not know if it was an attack or some sort of mishap. But when they opened the doors to the minivan they found five propane tanks, three plastic one-gallon gas cans, several lighters, three phones and a gym bag with personal items, Ragan said.
The base’s explosive ordnance disposal team quickly responded to the scene as did Air Force investigators, the FBI, fire crews and local police.
Kazi’s body was severely burned, but coroner’s officials were able to identify him through his fingerprints.
Ragan said investigators are trying to glean information from Kazi’s phone and other items recovered from the scene. He said agents also are pursuing multiple leads to piece together Kazi’s life and a possible motive.
The dead man’s religious beliefs and affiliation are not known at this point, said Ragan, who debunked a rumor that some sort of “jihad” video was found on Kazi’s phone.
Authorities were able to contact one of Kazi’s relatives in India to inform them of his death, but there’s no indication that person was interviewed as part of the investigation. Agents continue to search for any potential relatives or other people who knew Kazi.
Thus far, investigators have not found any evidence to indicate continuing threats to the air base, home to 7,000 active military members, or surrounding communities.
Times staff writer Jack Dolan in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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