On Sunday May 3, Two gunmen opened fire outside an event in Garland Texas. The event has been described as a free speech gathering centered around a contest to portray the Prophet Muhammad in cartoon form. The Muhammad Art Exhibit at the Curtis Caldwell Center hosted by anti-Islamist Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative offered a $10,000 prize. Geller has been described as Islamaphobic in the past.
The two gunmen, identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi arrived at the event wearing body armor and began firing AK-47 assault rifles as soon as they exited their vehicle. One policeman was wounded before another cop killed the pair. No-one inside the event was harmed. Almost immediately after the incident ISIS claimed responsibility. But law enforcement officials say that there is no evidence of a connection between ISIS and the two gunmen. Simpson had been convicted in 2010 of making false statements with respect to terrorism. He served a two year jail term. Soofi was relatively unknown to police authorities.
Some commentators suggest or imply that this circumstance might not be classifiable as terrorism. I would disagree. These were two individuals with sufficient firepower to commit a horrendous act at a venue teaming with innocent people. I say innocent even though I do not agree with the focus of their action. Let me be clear, however; as a retired journalist I believe in the First Amendment proclamation of free speech for all. That does not mean I am bound to agree with the content of all free speech.
In the case of Pamela Geller sponsor and host of the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contests, backed by her organization the American Freedom Defense Initiative, I grant her the right to express her opinions. But, if indeed she is Islamaphobic, I think that her content freely expressed is difficult to justify. It is wildly provocative and probably in my view unreasonable. That her event provoked this attack by two individuals, who were obviously at the least inspired by the rhetoric of ISIS, suggests to me that she crossed a line over which decency and responsibility for supporting peace were abrogated.
Make no mistake, neither do I think that the attack can be justified. My understanding of Islam generally suggests to me that these two individuals subverted the teachings of Muhammad. They appear to have been encouraged by a third person and perhaps more. One in particular seems to be Mujahid Miski, aka Mohamed Abdullah Hassan, formerly of Minneapolis and now apparently a member of al Shabab located in Somalia. Miski is an enthusiastic user of social media, especially Twitter, which he uses to recruit and encourage to commission of bad acts against the USA.
This particular event does not seem to be an active foray by ISIS, though it fits with calls by ISIS for supporters here to commit similar acts. Indeed ISIS claims more such actions will follow. Perhaps it is possible to call this particular event the acts of lone wolves. For those who say more are likely to occur, I say it is highly probable. That means we must be much more cognizant of what is going on around us. Law enforcement cannot be everywhere all at the same time. We must be vigilant and ready to forward pertinent and relevant information so that investigation and action can be taken against home-grown terrorists laying in wait.
My novel The Chechen’s Revenge deals with the idea that extremist terrorists can infiltrate our borders and seek to commit acts of violence. A vigilant agency focused on anti-terrorism has the potential to stop such acts before they are successful. Those segments of law enforcement that are focused on prevention of terrorism deserve our daily support.
I’m working on a second novel, entitled A Prairie Vendetta, that features a band of home-grown terrorists. In this story there is no affiliation to extreme Islam, but rather on a theory that disadvantaged youth can be radicalized to other cultural themes. The overall result of home grown terrorism still resonates with current experiences with terrorism. The goals are usually the same; to commit violence against society.
Recently I was able to publish The Chechen’s Revenge in print form. Here is an offer to all who previously purchased the novel in e-book form. If you would like to have a print copy, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to provide a copy, autographed if you like, for a discount of slightly better than 30 percent off the retail price of $16.95. That comes to $11.90. At that price I will not be able to offer free mail delivery, but I will split the difference with you at 50% of the best USPS price to your location. I’ll keep this offer open until June 6, 2015. That’s my birthday so consider this my birthday gift to you. And no, you won’t have to prove you purchased an e-book copy. I trust you. You can only get this deal by asking at the email address noted just above.
As usual thanks for your support. Good reading friends.