The two men killed by police while attacking a Muhammad cartoon exhibit in Texas on Sunday were part of a radicalized element in the West that operates under “standing orders for terrorism,” a Fox intelligence correspondent told Greta Van Susteren on Monday.
And the FBI and Homeland Security officials were expecting trouble from someone just like them.
Appearing on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” reporter Catherine Herridge said the two men, identified as Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Hamid Soofi, 34, both of Phoenix, Ariz., were “inspired” by Islamic State terrorists in Syria – if not directed by them.
While overseas terror groups will often claim credit for attacks for propaganda purposes, regardless of how much direct involvement they had, Twitter traffic around the time of the Sunday gunfight hints that it was not unexpected by terrorists abroad.
One posting in particular, from an Islamic State leader in Syria, came so quickly it might have been connected to the attack itself, Herridge said.
“Almost immediately after the attack, he praised the two suspects,” she said. “So this seems to show foreknowledge of the plot.”
At least one of the attackers was also known to have ties to terrorist activities.
According to the Guardian, Simpson had been under federal surveillance since 2006. In 2011, he was convicted in 2011 of lying to federal agents when he denied making plans to travel to Somalia.
Prosecutors had argued the trip was “for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad,” according to The New York Times, but the judge in the case ruled that wasn’t proven. He was sentenced to three years probation.
According to The Times:
The F.B.I. and the police in Phoenix opened a new investigation into Mr. Simpson several months ago after he began posting on social media about the Islamic State, the extremist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, according to law enforcement officials. As part of that inquiry, the authorities monitored his online postings and occasionally put him under surveillance, but they had no indication that he planned to launch the attack in Garland, the officials said.
But federal officials suspected something might happen.
Herridge told Van Susteren that anti-terrorism officials had issued a bulletin before the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, warning there could be Islamist-related trouble.
“That is why you saw such a heavy police presence at the event,” she said.
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