To the surprise of no one, except those who only follow mainstream “news” – the shootings during an event where caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were being displayed outside Dallas were the responsibility of ISIS, it looks like.
The bodies of shooting suspects are seen below, next to their vehicle as it is searched for explosives.
Followers of ISIS had been calling for an attack online for more than a week after learning that the competition in Garland would feature a ‘draw Muhammad’ art contest, with a prize of $10,000 for the best caricature.
After the attack, the SITE Intelligence Group reported that an Islamic State fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was carried out by two pro-Isis individuals.
In a series of tweets and links, a jihadist named as Abu Hussain AlBritani, which SITE said was British IS fighter Junaid Hussain, claimed that ‘2 of our brothers just opened fire’ at the Prophet Muhammad exhibition in Texas.
‘They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State,’ added the tweet.
Other ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site, using the now-suspended account name @atawaakul.
He had posted a message earlier that said ‘the bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [oath] to Amirul Mu’mineen [ISIS leader Al Baghdadi]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen #texasattack’. The contest was just minutes from finishing when multiple gunshots were heard.
The two suspects had pulled up in a vehicle with with explosives, before getting out and firing at a security officer, 57-year-old Bruce Joiner, who was employed by the independent school district and wearing a ‘police-style uniform’. He was later taken to hospital in a stable condition and was released on Sunday evening.
FBI bomb squad robots were then sent in to check the suspects’ vehicle, as the two bodies of the gunmen lay on the road beside it. The bodies were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car, which police feared had incendiary devices inside.
Shortly before midnight, police alerted media that a strong electronic pulse would be activated near the scene, presumably as part of the bomb squad’s work, and a loud boom was heard moments later, though police did not comment further on what was carried out.
The art event had been condemned by critics as an attack on Islam, but the organizers insisted they were exercising free speech.
Some Twitter users began posting about the shooting using a #JeSuisGarland hashtag, mirroring the #JesuisCharlie hashtag that became popular after January’s jihadist attacks in France. In that incident, gunmen killed 12 people in the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its cartoons of the prophet.
After the gunfire in Garland, those inside the building started to sing patriotic songs, including the national anthem and God Bless America, and said a prayer for the injured security guard after one woman pulled out an American flag from her bag.
Garland Police officer Joe Harn said on Sunday evening they had been monitoring the build-up to the event and had not received any credible threats.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott described the incident as a ‘senseless attack’ and praised the ‘swift action’ of Garland law enforcement.
The attack unfolded shortly after Dutch member of parliament and leader of the far-right Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, had delivered his keynote speech. There had been calls by members of Congress for him to be stopped at the border so he would not be able to speak.
Winner: Artist Bosh Fawstin (left) is presented with a check for $12,500 by Dutch politician Geert Wilders (center) and Pamela Geller (right) during a ceremony at the Curtis Culwell Center just before the shootings occurred.
‘We are here in defiance of Islam to stand for our rights and freedom of speech,’ he said during his speech shortly before the building was shut down. ‘That is our duty… Our message today is very simple: we will never allow barbarism, never allow Islam, to rob us of our freedom of speech.’
His remarks were met with a standing ovation. He then told the audience that most terrorists are Muslims, and ‘the less Islam the better’.
In 2009, he sparked controversy for showing a controversial film which linked the Koran to terrorism and has previously said the Netherlands is being taken over by a ‘tsunami of Islamisation’.
Pamela Geller, the organizer of the event and the leader of Stop Islamisation of America, wrote on her personal website after the attack: ‘This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?’
It was set up by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and had been described by opponents as an attack on Islam. They booked the center a little more than a week after Islamic militants in France killed 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The Garland Independent School district, who own the cultural center, allowed the event to go ahead despite criticism from residents and local Muslims that it was a risk to public safety.
The group spent $10,000 on 40 additional security officers, aware of potential threats they may attract, while Garland Police officers were fully prepared to deal with any issues that arose.
ISIS-Linked Twitter Accounts Promised “Death and Slaughter” Before Texas Shooting
Two social media accounts tweeted messages about last evening’s terror attack outside the “Draw Muhammad contest” in Texas – apparently before it happened. According to the Los Angeles TImes, a Twitter account titled “Shariah is Light” posted an allusion to the attack just minutes before it happened.