The Islamic State has released a message on its Al Bayan radio program claiming that the shooting in Garland, Texas was the work of “two soldiers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.” The claim, which was made in the group’s “news” bulletin, was first obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Islamic State says the exhibit in Texas “was holding a contest for drawings offensive to the Prophet Muhammad” and so “the brothers opened fire…which led to the wounding of one of the policemen tasked with protecting the exhibit,” according to SITE’s translation.
The group notes that the pair of terrorists (referred to as “the brothers”) were “killed during the exchange of fire” and asks “Allah to accept them in the highest rank of paradise.” The “news” item, which was also released in transcript form, ends with a threat “to the protector of the Cross,” America. The “coming ones are worse and more bitter, and you will see from the soldiers of the Islamic State what will hurt you, Allah permitting.”
“Tomorrow comes soon to those who look for it,” the Islamic State’s propagandists warn.
US officials are investigating whether the two shooters, identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, had any concrete ties to the Islamic State, or were supporters who decided to take up the group’s cause on their own. It is possible that Simpson made contact with Islamic State members via social media.
The Islamic State did not offer any new or specific details about the two terrorists in its claim.
Simpson made his allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization known. Prior to the shooting, he tweeted: “May Allah accept us as mujahideen.” The tweet included the hashtag “#texasattack.” Simpson also tweeted that he and his accomplice had sworn “bay’ah to Amirul Mu’mineen.” Bay’ah (or bayat) is an oath of allegiance and “Amirul Mu’mineen” means the “Leader of the Faithful,” a title usually reserved for the ruling caliph. Baghdadi has appropriated the title for himself, but it is also used to describe Taliban chieftain Mullah Omar.
Simpson was previously arrested and convicted of lying to federal authorities, receiving three years of probation as a sentence. According to court documents filed in his case, Simpson lied to FBI agents when he claimed that “he had not discussed traveling to Somalia, when in fact he had discussed with others traveling to Somalia for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad.”
The FBI began investigating Simpson in 2006, when authorities learned of his ties to an “individual whom the FBI believed was attempting to set up a terrorist cell in Arizona.” The FBI then asked an informant to befriend Simpson and record their conversations.
According to a court filing, Simpson discussed the necessity of waging jihad in defense of sharia law. During one conversation about the wars then raging overseas, Simpson told the informant that “they are trying to bring democracy over there man, they’re trying to make them live by man-made laws, not Allah’s laws.”
“That’s why they get fought,” Simpson surmised. “You try to make us become slaves to man? No we slave to Allah, we going to fight you to the death.”
Baghdadi’s followers believe that his group is implementing Allah’s true sharia law. However, most Muslims do not abide by the Islamic State’s radical version of Islamic law.
The shooting in Texas came shortly after al Qaeda, the Islamic State’s jihadist rival, claimed responsibility for several killings targeting supposed “blasphemers.” The leader of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Asim Umar, said in a statement that Ayman al Zawahiri had personally ordered attacks by al Qaeda’s branches on those in the West who offend Islamic beliefs. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris earlier this year was one such attack.
Therefore, both the Islamic State and al Qaeda are inciting their followers to lash out at people and organizations accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed. They are trying to portray their acts of terror, as well as those committed by their supporters, as a defense of Islam.
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