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FBI warned local police before Texas attack: FBI director

8 May 2015 8:48

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation had warned local authorities in Garland, Texas before two gunmen attacked a contest for physical depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey says.

The gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, opened fire outside a building where an anti-Islamic group, American Freedom Defense Initiative, was staging the provocative contest that would award $10,000 for the top depiction of the Prophet (PBUH).

Comey said on Thursday that the FBI had sent a bulletin to the local police department saying that Simpson had an interest in the event, but the agency did not indicate that he planned an attack.

“We developed information before the event [that] Simpson might go,” Comey said, adding the FBI “didn’t have reason to believe he would attack.”

The information about Simpson was developed about three hours before the contest began which featured extremist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is notorious for his anti-Muslim speeches, as its key speaker.

Comey said the terrorists are using the “siren song” of Twitter and other social media, spreading a message that “if you can’t travel, kill where you are.”

He said there are thousands of English-speaking followers on Twitter, with hundreds and perhaps thousands in the US “consuming this poison.”

The Sunday shooting began when Simpson and Nadir jumped out of a dark-colored vehicle and started firing their assault rifles at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

On Sunday, two gunmen opened fire outside a building where an anti-Islamic group, American Freedom Defense Initiative, was staging the provocative contest that would award $10,000 for the top depiction of the Prophet (PBUH).

A security guard was shot in the lower leg during the shooting, but the two gunmen were then shot and killed by authorities.

According to some officials who spoke to CNN, Simpson in private contact with known terrorists overseas who were encouraging him to launch an attempted attack in the US.

Simpson had been previously investigated on suspicion of terrorism offenses, a senior FBI official told US media.

The ISIL terrorist group later claimed responsibility for the shooting. “Two of the soldiers of the caliphate executed an attack on an art exhibit in Garland, Texas, and this exhibit was portraying negative pictures of the Prophet Mohammed,” the group said.

Following the incident, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the attack “on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, without reservation.”

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