According to Daily Mail, one of two gunmen who was shot dead by police officers Sunday night at an anti-Islam art contest in Texas after firing has been identified as a former FBI terrorist suspect.
Both heavily armed men were carrying explosives were killed by police after they opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Dallas around 7pm. The shooting took place during a controversial event that depicted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Elton Simpson, a previous suspect in a terror investigation, was identified as one of the men by a senior FBI official. Simpson, an American Muslim, was convicted of lying to federal agents about plans to travel to Somalia five years ago, but it could not be proven he was going there with the intent to join a terror group. He was placed on probation.
Upon learning his identity, FBI agents and a bomb squad swarmed Simpson’s north Phoenix, Arizona home, using a robot to carry out the first sweep. Computer records from materials found at the home are currently being reviewed by investigators.
It is speculated that Simpson is responsible for several Twitter messages sent out before the attack, the last one being sent only half an hour before the attack. Members of ISIS called for the attack online after learning the competition would have a “draw Muhammad” art contest with the winner receiving $10,000.
The competition was organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Muslim group which tracks hate groups, according to CNN. The president of the organization, Pamela Geller, is no stranger to provoking Islamist extremists, as evident in her involvement with the “Killing Jews is Worship” posters that will soon appear in New York.
“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently,” said Geller. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”
The American Freedom Defense Initiative said it specifically picked the venue, a school district-owned facility, because it hosted an event denouncing Islamophobia in January.
An ISIS fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was conducted by two pro-ISIS individuals. The identity of the other shooter remains unknown.