(JNS.org) Investigators from the FBI have identified one of the gunmen from the shooting at a free speech event in Texas on Sunday night that featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The gunman has ties to radical Islam.
Two gunmen opened fire at an event in Garland, Texas, hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) called “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.” One security guard was wounded, and the gunmen were subsequently killed by police officers.
AFDI is led by Pamela Geller, a prominent critic of radical Islam. In 2009, Geller protested a planned mosque near the World Trade Center, and more recently garnered headlines for a controversial ad campaign on the New York City public transit system with slogans such as, “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.”
Geller described the Texas event as pro-free speech, arguing that the “media is self-enforcing Shariah” and censoring criticism of Muslims. Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who is also a prominent critic of radical Islam, attended the event. Wilders is currently on an al-Qaeda hit list.
The FBI identified one of the gunmen as Elton Simpson from Phoenix, the New York Times reported. Simpson was previously charged in 2010 by federal prosecutors for attempting to travel to Somalia “for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad.”
While it is unclear if there is a direct link to the Islamic State terror group, a fighter named Abu Hussain al-Britani from Islamic State said in a tweet that “2 of our brothers just opened fire at the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) art exhibition in Texas,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.