News & Politics

The Jihad Murder in Florida You Heard Nothing About

Corey Johnson, 17, confessed to stabbing three people during a sleepover in a Florida home, including a 13-year-old boy who died. (Palm Beach Police Department)

A 17-year-old, Corey Johnson, murdered a 13-year-old, Jovanni Alexander Sierra, and stabbed two others in Florida in 2018, and this week it was reported that the victim’s family is suing the Publix grocery store chain for selling Johnson the knife, as the sale violated a Florida law that prohibits the sale of knives to anyone under age 18. That’s all well and good, but there is a good deal more to this story: this was a jihad massacre committed in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings, but it has been swept under the rug. Apparently it doesn’t fit the establishment media narrative.

According to The Blaze, “Johnson, who had converted to Islam prior to the attack, had been under investigation by the FBI because he was viewing radicalization propaganda online, including beheading videos.” Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Police Chief Clint Shannon explained: “Corey Johnson has confessed his actions to our investigators stating that he stabbed the victims because of his religious beliefs. Our understanding is he had converted to Islam and had been watching violent videos online.”

In the immediate aftermath of the murder, the Palm Beach Post reported that “in January 2017, several local law-enforcement agencies and the FBI came together with the staff at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, where he was a student at the time. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office received information that Johnson supported the terrorist organization ISIS and had reached out to the group online, expressing his desire to join them.”

Not only that. “The FBI told Jupiter police that a counter-intelligence agency in Europe investigated Johnson’s connection to several threats made on Instagram to McAuley Catholic High School in Doncaster, England. Though the report does not say what the threats were, authorities said they ‘were so severe in nature that up to 100 students were removed from the school fearing some kind of attack.’ British news outlets reported that in October 2016, a threat posted on Instagram stated ‘we will kill every single infidel student at this school.’”

Yes, you read that right: he reached out to ISIS, wanting to join them, and likely sent threats of a jihad massacre to a school, and yet over a year later he was still running around loose and unsupervised to the extent that he was able to buy a knife, even though he was underage, and use it on three people, killing one.

No “watch list” for Corey Johnson. No nothing. So the kid wanted to join ISIS! Who cares! It’s just a phase! And anyway, it’s all right: “a sheriff’s detective interviewed Johnson for a mental-health assessment.” What a relief! His judgment? The sheriff’s detective “said the teen sympathized with terrorist organizations.” No kidding, really?

Johnson’s mother and grandparents said that the boy had “recently began discovering religion.” Which one? You guessed it: he had started, they said, studying the Qur’an. Sierra’s throat was slashed. Maybe Johnson got the idea to do that from one of his scripture studies: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike necks…” (47:4). Local10.com reported at the time of the attack that “in his statement, Johnson advised he stabbed the victims because of his Muslim faith,” and that “just before the attack, Johnson was reading the Quran from his phone ‘to give him courage to carry out his intentions.’”

So now Jovanni Alexander Sierra is dead, and there is no bringing him back, but surely authorities have learned from the blunders that led to his being killed and have taken steps to make sure that nothing like Johnson’s jihad attack happens again, right? Of course not. In the years immediately following 9/11, counterterror agents were taught that one sign of a potential jihad killer was a sudden turn to devout observance of Islam. Devout Muslims weren’t all jihadis, but all jihadis, especially those who were converts to Islam, were devout. During the Obama administration, however, all that was removed from counterterror training: it was “Islamophobic” and “singled Muslims out,” as if some jihad terrorists were Methodists, yet Methodism wasn’t being studied.

All these years later, Corey Johnson showed all the signs of being a dangerous jihadi. Nothing was done because to have acted upon those signs would have been “Islamophobic.” Sierra’s family is suing Publix for selling Johnson the knife; they should be suing law enforcement for not watching Johnson more closely, and the establishment media for relentlessly demonizing anyone who ever suggested that selling Johnson his Qur’an may have been just as dangerous as selling him the knife.

How many people even know that this incident happened at all? The murder of Jovanni Alexander Sierra should have been the occasion for a national discussion about the phenomenon of converts to Islam becoming violent, which keeps happening, and what should be done about it. Instead, the whole thing was hushed up, as always.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.