Texas Attacker Left Trail of Extremist Ideas on Twitter

Scott Shane, New York Times, May 5, 2015

Counterterrorism officials on Tuesday were studying the electronic trails left by two men killed by a police officer as they shot at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, looking for any direct ties to the Islamic State extremist group in Syria. The group praised the gunmen in a statement as “soldiers of the caliphate,” the unified Muslim land that it purports to be building.

But any secret ties that officials might find may be less important than the public exchanges of messages on Twitter by one of the gunmen, Elton Simpson, in the weeks before the attack. Mr. Simpson, a convert to Islam with a long history of extremism, regularly traded calls for violence on Twitter with Islamic State fighters and supporters, as well as avowed enemies of Pamela Geller, the organizer of the cartoon contest.

His Twitter contacts included Junaid Hussain, a British fighter with the Islamic State in Syria known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, and Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, a Somali-American now in Somalia who uses the name Mujahid Miski and frequently promotes the Islamic State. Both men called for violence, and Mr. Hassan had suggested the Texas event as a possible target.

On April 23, 10 days before the Texas attack, Mr. Hassan linked to the planned cartoon event in Texas, praised the January shootings at a satirical newspaper in Paris and called on jihadists in the United States to follow that example.

“The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part,” Mr. Hassan wrote in the post. “It’s time for brothers in the #US to do their part.”

Later the same day, Mr. Simpson posted about the cartoon contest, using the handle Shariah is Light: “When will they ever learn. They are planning on selecting the best picture drawn of Rasulullah (saws) in Texas.” Rasulullah (saws) is a respectful phrase for the prophet.

The onslaught of recruitment propaganda has multiplied the number of online enthusiasts for the Islamic State in the United States, giving counterterrorism investigators the difficult task of deciding which are simply fantasizing in public and which might be planning violence.

“The ISIS guys are talking to these wannabes on Twitter all day long,” a senior law enforcement official said. “It’s like the devil is sitting on their shoulder saying, ‘Come on, they’re insulting the prophet, what are you going to do about it?’ ” The official, who would speak about the continuing investigation only on condition of anonymity, said that although Mr. Simpson had long been under F.B.I. scrutiny, he had not appeared to be preparing for violence.

“There are so many like him that you have to prioritize your investigations,” the official said. {snip}

{snip}

Several months ago, after Mr. Simpson began posting on Twitter about the Islamic State, the F.B.I. and the police in Phoenix opened a new investigation, officials said. As part of that inquiry, the authorities monitored his online postings and occasionally put him under surveillance, the officials said. Mr. Soofi was not under investigation.

{snip}

Yet with dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of people across the United States expressing online sympathy for the Islamic State, authorities are unable to keep them all under physical surveillance or track them online. Watching a single suspect night and day can require a team of 25 people in shifts around the clock.

{snip}

 

Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Chip Carver

    We’re going to see more guys like this popping up around the US. Which is exactly what the folks in charge want. Sure, certain threatening situations will be nipped in the bud if possible, depending on who or what the targets appear to be. But others will be let run their course. Because those incidents can be used as excuses for more and more draconian measures that will actually target the White population as a whole.

    • archer

      I agree, with the amount of government spying with the NSA, etc. they are concerned with what the white citizen is doing, wondering if he is going to start revolting against this criminal government, that’s what the patriot act and ndaa are really about.

  • “Unable to keep them all under surveillance”

    What about the great NSA?

    • Lexonaut

      I’m under a 50-year-old NSA-related national security oath that will never expire and I’m not allowed to speculate about national intelligence capabilities other than in very minor ways.

      That said, I recall reading somewhere a few months ago that NSA collects about three terrabytes of data per second.

  • TruthBeTold

    (My re-post from another article)

    If you mock Muslims, you’re guilty of Islamiphobia.
    If you mock Jews, you’re guilty of Anti-semitism.
    If you mock Christians, you’re guilty of _________?

    Is there a word for mocking, demeaning, insulting Christians?

    Watch a week of The Daily Show. Read Reddit, Democratic Underground, Daily Kos, etc and take note of all there anti-Christian mocking and memes.

  • Hilis Hatki

    “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my closeup”

  • jaye ellis

    It’s OK, probably a good strategy to wave a red cape in front of the charging Islamic bulls.

    Do this in your own small world.

    Sponsor:

    Beer, Bacon and Bare headed Babes (rest of the female dress is sexy but not slutty) on Islamic holidays (which is pretty much every day, or some anniversary of Whites defeating Islam in some battle, expelling Muslims from Spain etc).

    Another promising idea is to finesse the “Draw Mohammed” propaganda/media events:

    Do:

    Draw Moses, Jesus and some other middle eastern religious figure.

    Have the drawings be tasteful, not really insulting – but just note if Jews or Christians will riot and murder people just over some people drawing Moses and Jesus, so what’s the problem with Muslims?

    • TK

      Jews will destroy you using the legal system. The real question is, what’s the matter with Christians?

  • 5Sardonicus

    I don’t believe that Mr.Simpson was an ISIS agent. more likely that this is an example of spontaneous Jihad Syndrone. From what I understand, this is not that uncommon in Israel?

  • anonymous

    Does anyone else find it extremely bizarre that all of these so-called terrorists have Facebook and Twitter accounts and broadcast their plans all over the internet?

    Think about how stupid you’d have to be to do something like that. It’s really kind of mind-boggling.

    It also sounds like the NSA’s massive electronic intelligence-gathering system is basically worthless. They can collect terabytes of data, but they can’t deal with it in any meaningful way. They didn’t even have the resources to consistently monitor these idiot’s online activities or keep them under physical surveillance for very long.

    I hate to think what real professional terrorists could do in this train wreck of a country.

  • Cid Campeador

    The only solution is a mass deportation of all Muslims and self proclaimed Muslim sympathizers. IF we can allow hundreds of thousands of