A misleading and dangerous narrative has formed in the wake of the shooting in Garland, Texas that is music to the ears of Islamists: That there's a causal relationship between the Mohammed drawing event and the attack on the event. Many figures in the media are conflating the target with the motivation.
The facts speak for themselves. The first perpetrator who was identified, Elton Simpson, was first investigated by the FBI all the way back in the fall of 2006. The court documents show that the FBI was tracking a suspected plot to establish a sleeper cell in Arizona and Simpson was associated with the organizer. The FBI used a presumably Muslim informant who attended Simpson's mosque.
Simpson was recorded telling the informant about his desire to quickly enter Paradise by dying in violent jihad. He blasted Muslims who didn't believe they are required to fight overseas and framed the conflict as one between democracy's "man-made laws" and "Allah's laws." He talked about the need to rebuild a caliphate. All of this happened roughly eight years before ISIS made "caliphate" practically a household word and before the Mohammed drawings contest was ever mentioned.
Simpson was a convert who was born in Illinois and moved to Phoenix. He was convicted in 2011 for lying to the FBI about his plan to go to Somalia and join Al-Qaeda's affiliate there named Al-Shabaab. He was only fined $500 and sentenced to three years probation because the judge dropped the terrorism charge. Here's an excerpt from the astounding ruling:
"It is true that the Defendant had expressed sympathy and admiration for individuals who 'fight' non-Muslims as well as his belief in the establishment of Shariah law, all over the world including in Somalia. What precisely was meant by 'fighting' whenever he discussed it, however, was not clear. Neither was what the Defendant meant when he stated he wanted to get to the 'battlefield' in Somalia."
Simpson's co-conspirator was his roommate, Nadir Soofi, who was born in Garland, Texas, where the shooting took place. He was raised there until he was three years old. He and his brother then attended a private school in Pakistan and moved back to America when their mother divorced their Pakistani father.
A friend of Soofi's since sixth grade said he noticed his radicalization process happening over several years. He strangely switched from being a dog-lover to a dog-hater and became an "internet jihadi" while suffering from "loneliness and struggling in the U.S." after moving back from Pakistan. His Facebook page shows he followed popular radical preachers like Khalid Yasin and Zakir Naik.
Simpson swore allegiance to the Islamic State and the pair attacked the Mohammed cartoons event but that doesn't mean they were motivated by the event. The event was simply the most attractive target for implementing his long-held jihadist beliefs. If the event was cancelled, another target would have been chosen because the fundamental objective was murder and dying.
Simpson wasn't even motivated by the Islamic State, per se. He had adopted the jihadist ideology years before ISIS burst onto the scene. The Islamist premises that made the Islamic State attractive is where the problem originates.
As pointed out by former CIA officer Clare Lopez, the mosque's Facebook page says it is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity whose links to Hamas earned it being called an unindicted co-conspirator designation in a terrorism-financing trial.
Lopez also notes that the mosque's imam, Sheikh Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz Ahmad Sulaiman, is a member of a the North American Imams Federation, a group so radical that it is interconnected with the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, an anti-American Islamist organization that supports Hamas and forbids Muslims from serving food to the U.S. military.
The Federation had (or has) an official linked to the Jamaat-e-Islami group in Bangladesh; Sulaiman was even convicted as a war criminal there. Daniel Greenfeld discovered that the mosque held an event with Lauren Booth from PressTV, a propaganda outlet for the Iranian regime. Lopez also noticed that Simpson converted to Islam around the same time as he began attending the mosque, strongly indicating that his original interpretations of Islam were shaped by what was being preached at the mosque.
The mosque’s leadership has given contradictory answers about how long Simpson attended. Mosque president Usama Shami told one media outlet that he stopped showing up around 2010 when he was indicted. To another, Shami said he attended for a decade and stopped coming two or three months ago.
Shami says Simpson had a lot of friends at the mosque and never expressed radicalism. Yet, the FBI informant wasn't previously friends with Simpson and seemed to have had no trouble getting him to talk about his radicalism, making it hard to believe that Simpson didn't express this to his other friends at the mosque.
Shami is already positioning to redirect attention away from Islamism and onto its opponents—especially the U.S. government—as Islamists reflexively do. He seemed to suggest that the FBI provoked Simpson's radicalization by saying that he saw a personality shift after he was indicted. Shami claims he suddenly saw an "absence of happiness" but no radicalism.
This is typical Islamist deflection. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates, claims that the FBI is purposely radicalizing innocent Muslims. In its condemnation of the Texas shooting, it accused the terrorists and event organizers of having the same agenda.
Islamist radicalism is what breeds Islamist terrorism, even if some non-violent Islamist radicals disagree with terrorism. In order for someone to join the Islamic State, he or she must first have the extreme beliefs of sharia governance and rebuilding the caliphate. In order for someone to join Hamas, he must first be anti-Semitic. And for someone to attack people drawing Mohammed, he must believe that critics of Mohammed deserve death.
The media's focus on the Mohammed drawings contest misses the mark. Whether or not one agrees with holding the event is irrelevant as to why this attack happened. It happened because of the desire to find a target; not because of the target itself.
Every second the media spends implying a casual relationship between the event and the attack is a second wasted.
Watch Clarion's Ryan Mauro's interview about the attack on Fox News:
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.