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Gunmen Attack Mohammed Cartoon Event in Texas

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Update: The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack and has threatened more assaults on US home soil. The two terrorists killed in the Garland shooting have been identified as Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson from Phoenix, Arizona. The two men were proved to be the authors of the #TexasAttack tweets fomr the 'Shariah is Light' account shared by Islamic State supporters as the attack commenced. Both men attended the Islamic Center of North Phoenix. Soofi had been arrested several times for reckless driving and unlawful possession. Simpson was known to the FBI after he was found to be connected to a man attempting to organize an Arizona terrorist cell in 2006. 

 

Police in Texas killed two gunmen who opened fire at an event called the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest. During the incident, which lasted about 15 seconds, the gunmen shot an unarmed security guard after which police returned fired.

"The first suspect was shot immediately," Garland Mayor Douglas Athas told CNN. "The second suspect was wounded and reached for his backpack. He was shot again."

The security guard, who was wounded in his ankle, was treated at a hospital and later released.

At press time, the gunmen's identity had not been made public.

The shooting follows other events where those who drew the Islamic prophet Mohammed were targeted. In France, 12 employees of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were killed in January when Islamist gunmen broke through the magazine’s security in Paris and massacred the staff. In February, gunmen attacked a café in Copenhagen where an event titled “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression” was being held. One person was killed in that attack.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the Texas attack, a post from a Twitter account called “Shariah is Light,” that has a history of directing followers to known Islamic State accounts has taken credit for the attack. 

The tweet read, “The bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [allegiance] to Amirul Mu’mineen [the caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen [jihadis]. Make dua [supplication to God] #texas attack”

The event, held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas (a suburb of Dallas) was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

"The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently." said Pam Geller, president of the initiative. "They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas."

The venue was specifically chosen for the fact that less than two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attack, the center hosted a conference of American Islamists titled Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect.  The conference was billed as a fundraiser to establish a “Strategic Communication Center” to combat “Islamophobia” and train young Muslims in media relations. Only selected press was allowed into the event and only for the first 20 minutes.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who lives in protected custody because of his controversial stance against Islam, was the keynote speaker at the event. Wilders, who is on an Al-Qaeda hit list, left after his speech.

Geller was not seen by in the hall after the shooting, according to an AP reporter who was covering the event.

Close to 200 people attended the event. They were directed into an inner room of the facility after the shooting by a security officer in military fatigues and combat gear.

Spokesman for the police, Joe Harn, said, "We were prepared for something like this."  The event organizers hired private security and the Garland school district provided additional officers. Security costs for the event were estimated at $30,000.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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