Elton Simpson, aspiring jihadist
Reports rolled out early this morning that one of the gunmen taken out during last night’s shootout in Garland, Texas has been identified as Elton Simpson. Elton Simpson was shot and killed after he and an accomplice pulled up to a “Draw Mohammed” free speech event and attacked a security officer.
According to ABC News, the FBI and a bomb squad began an investigation of Simpson’s north Phoenix home, where he is believed to have lived with his accomplice. This isn’t the first time the government has conducted investigations into Simpson’s jihad-associated activities; he was convicted five years ago of lying to officials about plans to travel overseas and allegedly join a terror organization.
The New York Times laid out the history of allegations against Simpson:
In 2010, federal prosecutors in Arizona charged Mr. Simpson with plotting to travel to Somalia “for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad,” and then lying to a federal agent about his plans. A judge found him guilty of lying to the agent, but said the government had not proved that his plan involved terrorism, and sentenced him to three years’ probation.
The police and F.B.I. agents in Phoenix searched an apartment believed to be connected to Mr. Simpson, with much of the Autumn Ridge apartment complex cordoned off through the night. At the same time, the F.B.I. office in Dallas confirmed that it was providing investigators and a bomb technician to aid the police in Garland, a city just outside Dallas.
Officials did not give a motive for the attack Sunday evening, but drawings of Muhammad, considered offensive by many Muslims, have drawn violent responses in the past. Shortly before the shooting, messages were posted on Twitter with the hashtag #texasattack, including one saying, “May Allah accept us as mujahideen.”
The Huffington Post grabbed a screenshot of several other tweets related to the attack:
That account has since been suspended.
Was Simpson the kind of guy to go on an all-out jihad in the United States? His former attorney says no:
Kristina Sitton, who represented Simpson in the 2010 trial, said her former client had been on a no-fly list and that the FBI had attempted to get Simpson to cooperate with them, even after his conviction. She saw him, she said, as “harmless.”
“He grew up the most normal guy. Just a normal high school guy… Converting to Islam seemed like a good thing for him. He had been going down a bad path and then he found Islam,” Sitton told ABC News. “He never struck me as someone who would do this sort of thing. I’m not a bleeding heart, I’m a Republican. I’ve seen some pretty bad guys and he seemed pretty normal.”
Clearly, “harmless” is no longer being included in the list of buzzwords used to describe Simpson.
Having lived and worked in Dallas, I know the people in Garland, Texas very well; they’re not going to take this lying down. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they deal with these terrifying (and bizarre) developments.DONATE
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