Islamic men open fire on group in Garland

Emily Berthiaume, Teen Intrest Editor

During a drawing of Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, two men in a car, identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, opened fire on the 200 attendees. The men did not kill or injure any, but were both shot and killed by an on-site police officer.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative, also known as Stop Islamization of America, an anti-Muslim hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, organized the contest. The keynote speaker of the event was right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is on an al Qaeda hit list for his film Fitna, which portrayed Islam as a threat to Western society.

The shooting has been compared to the Charlie Hebdo attack in France in January and the Copenhagen shootings in February because all the attacks seemed to be provoked by drawn images of Mohammed, which some Muslims believe to be blasphemous.

“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently,” Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, said. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”

One of the shooters, Simpson, was convicted in 2011 for making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism and was sentenced to three years of probation. He linked himself to ISIS in a tweet before the attack, writing,

“May Allah accept us as mujahideen.” Simpson and his fellow attacker, Soofi, had also pledged loyalty to “Amirul Mu’mineen”, which means the leader of the faithful, a description that likely refers to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

A traffic officer working after-hours as security for the event, armed with a service pistol, shot and killed both men even though they were wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles, according to Garland Police Department spokesman Joe Harn.

“We think their strategy was to get into the event center, and they were not able to get past our perimeter that we had set up,” Harn said. Four SWAT team members with high- powered rifles also fired at the suspects. “[The officers] faced death head-on and, with incredible skill and bravery, were able to save a lot of people,” Zach Horn, an attorney for the officers, said. The official motive of the attack is yet to be determined. Simpson and Soofi, both from Phoenix, apparently showed “no signs of radicalization”, according to Usama Shami, the president of Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, the mosque that Simpson and Soofi both attended. Although ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming two Al Khailafa soldiers opened fire on the event, no definitive proof has been found. “We say to the defenders of the cross, the U.S., that future attacks are going to be harsher and worse. The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of God. The future is just around the corner,” stated an ISIS report. It is very possible that Simpson and Soofi were sole operatives. They may have had email communications with ISIS, but not been directed by them, or they may have been applying for membership to ISIS, which would explain the tweet. They knew that if they did not make it out alive, everyone would still know that the attack was for ISIS.