On May 3, 2015, two terrorists launched an armed attack on Pam Geller‘s “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest,” at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.
It was the first ISIS-claimed attack on U.S. soil. Last week, a “60 Minutes” special on CBS revealed that an undercover FBI agent accompanied the terrorists in a separate car as they approached the Center. Many questions remain unanswered regarding his role in the attack and the FBI’s responsibility to forewarn in such cases. (Editor’s note: ISIS is also known as Islamic State, ISIL, and Daesh.)
The undercover agent, who remains unidentified, had been communicating with Simpson and Soofi through encrypted messages for some time. According to “60 Minutes,” a few weeks before the attack he urged them to “Tear up Texas.” Simpson responded, “bro, you don’t have to say that … you know what happened in Paris … so that goes without saying. No need to be direct.”
The agent followed closely behind the two terrorists in a separate car as they drove toward the art exhibit. He photographed two security guards, Bruce Joiner and Greg Stevens, standing outside the Culwell Center seconds prior to the attack. The two terrorists stopped in the street in front of the event, jumped from their car and began shooting at Joiner and Stevens. Joiner was immediately hit in the leg with a non-life-threatening wound. Stevens, a 60-year-old, 38-year veteran of the police force, returned fire and seriously wounded both Simpson and Soofi. Then four members of a SWAT team engaged and killed them. The entire incident went down “in seconds,” according to Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates.
Photo taken of security guards by undercover FBI agent seconds before attack
The two terrorists, Elton Ibrahim Simpson and Nadir Soofi, had been roommates living in Phoenix, Arizona. They had extensive ties to Islamic extremists. ISIS recruiter Mohammed Hassan, known online as “Miski,” had been encouraging them for months. Hassan, a Minnesota Somali refugee who returned to the Middle East to participate in Jihad, is credited with recruiting at least 16 Americans and 12 other Westerners to the ISIS cause. Hassan surrendered in Somalia in late 2015. Simpson had also been communicating online with Junaid Hussein, another online recruiter based in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. Hussein was killed in a drone strike later that year.
The FBI had been tracking Simpson, whom they considered the ringleader, for months and had known about him for years. Years back, Simpson was the subject of an intensive undercover effort where an informant was paid $132,000 to record 1,500 hours of conversations with Simpson.
As a result of that investigation, in 2011 Simpson received 3 years probation for lying to the FBI about his desire to wage jihad overseas. He was put on the no-fly list. Nonetheless, shortly prior to the attack Simpson had again been planning to join ISIS overseas, but according to his own online messages, those plans were thwarted when a number of Muslims he intended to travel with were arrested.
Interestingly, the guns used in the attacks were purchased from Lone Wolf Trading in Phoenix, one of the shops involved in the Obama Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” gun running scheme, which supplied firearms with hidden tracking devices to known drug dealers. Over 300 people have since been killed or wounded with those guns, including two U.S. border agents. It is not known if this purchase was connected in any way to that effort.
About 150 people were inside the art exhibit, including Geller, famed Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders, and Robert Spencer of JihadWatch. For years Wilders has had to travel with a full-time contingent of bodyguards to protect him from Islamist attacks.
Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), both Muslim members of Congress and notorious Islamists, tried to block Wilders from entering the U.S. to attend the event, urging the Department of State to deny his visa. Ellison is now number two in the Democrat Party leadership, having been bested in the race to chair the Democratic National Committee by extreme-left partisan, Thomas Perez.
The undercover FBI agent did not assist or warn the guards of the impending attack, but was caught fleeing the scene shortly after the shooting. Interestingly, the FBI were at the event according to Chief Gates, who in a post-attack press conference, described the huge security contingent:
Due to the nature of this event and the security concerns surrounding several of the attendees, our police department security detail was increased to 40 personnel, including numerous members of our SWAT team, and Garland Police Department bomb unit, in addition to Garland ISD security personnel, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the ATF and the FBI.
Reports claimed the FBI alerted local police three hours before the event, with a photo of Simpson and message that he had expressed “interest in the event.” Chief Bates debunked this in the press conference, saying that there was no specific information on Simpson related to the Garland art event at all. He reiterated this again in a later press conference:
Some reports have indicated that a bulletin was sent to us by the FBI regarding Elton Simpson being a potential threat to the event. This is not accurate…
There was an email sent to the local FBI joint-terrorism task force which included one Garland police detective. However, it:
did not contain any information that listed Simpson as a potential threat. No one at the Garland Police Department nor anyone at the event command post, including the FBI and Texas DPS personnel, was aware of this informational email prior to the shooting…
The FBI claims it had “no advance knowledge” of the attack, despite the undercover agent’s interactions with the pair.
I reached the Garland police information officer today to try to obtain a few more details.
I asked if any information had come to light regarding the undercover FBI agent who was arrested fleeing the scene. He said that no one had been arrested. When I responded that the “60 Minutes” video showed a man being handcuffed, he said that someone could have been “detained” without being arrested. That would obviously have been the FBI man.
Undercover agent being detained after Garland shootout
Geller said that CBS’s main interest was to “slam the FBI.” However, she added, “in this case, the FBI should be slammed … because they knew about this attack, they were there, and they didn’t have a SWAT team there … We hired the SWAT. We paid an additional $10,000 to local police to have the kind of coverage we had. But these guys came blasting out of a car with automatic weapons. It’s a miracle that people weren’t killed.”
I was able to reach Pam Geller for a brief interview for this column.
Bombthrowers: Has anything come out since the CBS report on the extent of the undercover agent’s work with the terrorists or what he hoped to accomplish by trailing them to the event?
Pam Geller: No, I have no information on him at all, but we learned in August 2016 that he was egging on the jihadis, telling them to “tear up Texas.” I have no problem with FBI agents infiltrating jihad terror cells but they should be trying to stop attacks, not encouraging them.
BT: Have you gotten any death threats since that event, or has there been any indication of other similar planned attacks?
PG: Shortly after the attack, ISIS put a fatwa on my head. Not long after that three Muslims began plotting to come to New York and behead me. One of them, however, grew impatient and attacked a police officer in Boston; he was killed. The other two plotters were then discovered and imprisoned, although one may be released soon.
BT: How did you feel when that attack went down? Were you angry, fearful? How do you think President Trump should change the public policy approach to Islamists and their agendas in this country?
PG: I was neither angry nor fearful. I was concerned at the time with getting as much information as I could and notifying my family and friends that I was all right. President Trump needs to speak honestly about the ideological roots of the jihad threat, hire people who are willing to do that, and confront the Muslim organizations in the U.S. that are working for the same Sharia goals that the jihadis have.
BT: What in particular would you like our readers to know about your views on this attack and the FBI’s handling of it?
PG: The main thing is that there is no explanation that fits the facts other than this: the FBI knew the jihadis were going to strike our event, and did nothing to stop them. In fact, its agent encouraged them. My conclusion that they wanted us dead is simply the only possible explanation of their behavior.
We can only hope that the Trump administration will make a radical change in course away from the Obama administration’s policies toward Muslim radicals and Islamic terrorism.
The new administration needs to bring back the training law enforcement and the military used to receive on Muslim extremists.
The proposed “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act” would also help work a sea change in our treatment of the many Islamic terrorism-supporting groups that had a free hand under Obama.