On Sunday evening, two men were shot and killed outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas where a cartoon contest was underway featuring depictions of the prophet Mohammed. At the time, we reported that ISIS had taken credit for what ultimately appears to have been a botched attempt to carry out an attack similar to the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in France:
And while the FBI did not have any immediate comments or speculation on the reason behind the attack, according to the Site intel group, overnight it was Islamic State supporters who took "credit" for the bungled shooting attack.
Today we learn that indeed, ISIS has officially claimed responsibility. Here’s more from CNN:
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack outside the Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas -- and warned of more attacks to come
In a broadcast on its official radio channel Tuesday, the group said two Al Khilafa soldiers attacked the event. Al Khilafa is how ISIS refers to its soldiers.
The two gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, wounded a security guard before police shot and killed them.
The ISIS radio announcer also referred to Simpson and Soofi as the terror group's "brothers."
While ISIS claimed responsibility two days after the Sunday attack, there was no immediate indication that the terror group in Iraq and Syria actually had contact with Simpson or Soofi, who both lived in Phoenix.
CNN then makes the very astute observation that there appear to have been very subtle “clues” that one of the shooters was an ISIS sympathizer — clues like creating a Twitter hashtag in hopes your attack will become a trending topic, tweeting out your own goodbye message to the world, and pledging allegiance to the leader of ISIS:
U.S. authorities have said they are investigating whether Sunday's shooting has any link to international terrorism. But there are clues that one of the gunmen was an ISIS sympathizer. Moments before the attack, Simpson posted an ominous tweet with the hashtag #texasattack: "May Allah accept us as mujahideen."
The tweet also said he and his fellow attacker had pledged allegiance to "Amirul Mu'mineen," which means "the leader of the faithful." CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said that likely refers to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
This of course marks the first attack claimed by ISIS on U.S. soil. Here’s a recap of events from Al Arabiya:
"Two of the soldiers of the caliphate executed an attack on an art exhibit in Garland, Texas, and this exhibit was portraying negative pictures of the Prophet Mohammed," the jihadist group said.
It was the first time ISIS claimed to have carried out an attack in the U.S.
Police said two men drove up to the conference center Sunday in Garland, Texas, where the right-wing American Freedom Defense Initiative was organizing the controversial cartoon contest, and began shooting at a security guard.
Garland police officers then shot and killed both men.
According to U.S. media reports, the two suspected jihadists were Elton Simpson, 31, and Nadir Soofi, 34, who shared an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona.
Simpson was being investigated by the FBI over alleged plans to travel to Somalia to wage holy war, court records show.
As mentioned above, the two men were Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, shown here:
From The Washington Post on Simpson:
Simpson was born in Illinois and converted to Islam at a young age, court documents show. The government began investigating him in 2006, recording conversations between him and a paid informant.
In May 2009, according a federal court document, Simpson told an FBI informant: “It’s time to go to Somalia, brother.” He added: “It’s time. I’m tellin’ you man. We gonna make it to the battlefield…it’s time to roll.”
Simpson was arrested by the FBI in January 2010 after a lengthy investigation. He was charged with lying to agents in connection with terrorism. Authorities suspected he was trying to fly to Somalia, but Simpson claimed at the time he had intended to travel to South Africa to go to school and study Islam there.
Following a bench trial, a judge dropped the terrorism enhancement, citing insufficient evidence.
And from CNN about both men:
In 2011, Simpson was convicted of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism.
Prosecutors said he told FBI agents that he had not discussed traveling to Somalia to engage in "violent jihad" -- when, in fact, he had, according to an indictment.
Simpson was sentenced to three years of probation, court records show...
Soofi was born in Garland and spent the first three years of his life there, his mother said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
"He was raised in a normal American fashion," Sharon Soofi said. "Yes, he was very politically involved with the Middle East. Just aware of what's going on. I don't know if something snapped or if Elton Simpson was just working on him."
Sharon Soofi also said her son had an 8-year-old boy whom he adored.
"He put his son above everything," she said. "The hard thing to comprehend is why he would do this and leave an 8-year-old son behind."
Soofi's father is Pakistani, and his mother is American, a source with knowledge of the family told CNN.
After his parents divorced, Soofi and his brother moved to Pakistan to live with their father and stepmother, the source said.
In the 1990s, Soofi attended a prestigious private school in Islamabad. The source added that the boys left abruptly at some point, ostensibly to go live with their mother.
And one Chevy Cobalt was harmed in the making of this story...
Their neighbors in Phoenix said they had no clue about what they were going to do.
Ariel Whitlock was actually about to buy a car from Simpson. She was horrified to see the same black Chevrolet Cobalt, damaged from the attack, on the news.
"I'm getting goose bumps thinking about it right now just because I wanted to buy that car," she told CNN's Kyung Lah. "On the news, I see it, it's just blown up. I'm like, 'I was going to purchase that car.'"
* * *
Here is the statement from ISIS in which the group warns of further attacks...
This fair was conducting a competition of offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The brothers were killed during an exchange of fire, and we ask God to welcome them into heaven. And we say to America... that what is coming is worse and more bitter, and you will see from the soldiers of the Islamic State what ill will come.
...which ends with the following ominous passage and very accurate — if a bit tautological — observation that the future is indeed "right around the corner"...
The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of God. The future is just around the corner.
As we said on Monday, if indeed ISIS has found its way to the US, whether for pure provocation, false flag or any other "purposes" of inciting terrorist acts, this will likely be just the first of (many) other attacks which will see the successor of al Qaeda take responsibility for.