Flashback: Garland, Texas terror attack took place four years ago

PJ Media reporter Patrick Poole reminds us that the Garland, Texas terror attack took place four years ago today. He also reminds us what a completely botched job the FBI did in this case:

In March of 2017, 60 Minutes did a segment on the attack and the FBI’s failure to see it coming. The full video of the segment is behind a paywall but the transcript is here:

The target of the attack was an event taking place in this conference center on May 3, 2015. A self-described free speech advocate named Pamela Geller was holding a provocative contest, offering a cash-prize for the best drawing of the prophet Muhammad, whose depiction is considered sacrilege by some Muslims. Security outside was heavy. There were dozens of police, a SWAT team, and snipers.

More than 100 people were gathered inside and the event was ending when two terrorists drove up to a checkpoint manned by a Garland police officer and a school security guard…

The next day as the FBI picked through the crime scene, the evidence showed Garland police had prevented a massacre. The terrorists brought six guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, bulletproof and tactical vests, and Xeroxed copies of the black flag of ISIS. They were identified as 31-year-old Elton Simpson and 34-year-old Nadir Soofi. Just hours before the attack they had sent this tweet pledging allegiance to ISIS. But Simpson was already well-known to the FBI…

Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi died at the scene of the attack, but a third man, Abdul-Kareem, who had watched extremist videos and practiced shooting with them was tried and convicted of conspiracy and other charges. After his conviction, it was revealed that the FBI had been in close contact with Simpson and Soofi prior to the attack, even telling Elton to “tear up Texas” in a text message a few weeks before the attack:

Dan Maynard: That’s right. Yeah. After the trial we found out that they had had an undercover agent who had been texting with Simpson, less than three weeks before the attack, to him “Tear up Texas.” Which to me was an encouragement to Simpson.

The man he’s talking about was a special agent of the FBI, working undercover posing as an Islamic radical. The government sent attorney Dan Maynard 60 pages of declassified encrypted messages between the agent and Elton Simpson – and argued “Tear up Texas” was not an incitement. But Simpson’s response was incriminating, referring to the attack against cartoonists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo: “bro, you don’t have to say that…” He wrote “you know what happened in Paris… so that goes without saying. No need to be direct.”

But it turns out the undercover agent did more than just communicate online with Elton Simpson. In an affidavit filed in another case the government disclosed that the FBI undercover agent had actually “traveled to Garland, Texas, and was present… at the event.”

As you’ll see in this clip, the undercover agent was in a car directly behind the two terrorists when the attack started. He even took the photo above seconds before the shooting began:

The undercover agent fled the scene but was arrested by the police. In a statement, the FBI said there was no advance knowledge of an attack. But it’s hard to read those texts above and wonder why someone wasn’t getting the hint based on the reference to what happened to Charlie Hebdo.

In fact, as Patrick Poole pointed out, the FBI itself sent out a warning hours before the event with a photo of Elton Simpson saying he might be headed for the event. Apparently no one saw this in time but clearly they had some last minute warning. And yet, their own agent just followed them there and did nothing. As 60 Minutes pointed out, this probably would have been a huge scandal if not for the good aim of Texas cops:

Anderson Cooper: If this attack had gone a different way, and lots of people had been killed, would the fact that an undercover FBI agent was on the scene have become essentially a scandal?

Seamus Hughes: It woulda been a bigger story. I think you would have seen congressional investigations and things like that. Lucky for the FBI and for the participants in the event you know, here in Texas, you know, everyone’s a good shot there.

The Garland attack was the first ISIS-claimed attack on U.S. soil.