In a daily radio broadcast today on their Al-Bayan channel, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a Mohammad cartoon exhibit in Garland, Texas. Here’s the snippet from their daily bulletin, which lists all operations “specifically for the soldiers of the Islamic State”:
The two terrorists who were killed before making it into the exhibit hall were identified as Phoenix roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi. Simpson was flagged by the FBI in 2010 for trying to join jihad in Somalia and more recently for tweeting on behalf of the Islamic State. He tweeted about the attack before it happened.
The White House has issued no official statement on the terrorist attack but press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday “there is no act of expression, even if it’s offensive, that justifies an act of violence.”
Earnest spoke aboard Air Force One as President Obama headed to New York for remarks at Lehman College, his eighth appearance on David Letterman, and a DNC event at a private residence.
“We have seen extremists try to use expressions that they considered to be offensive as a way to justify violence not only in this country but around the world, and in the mind of the president there is no form of expression that would justify an act of violence,” he said.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that “while all the facts are not in yet, last night’s attack serves as a reminder that free and protected speech, no matter how offensive to some, never justifies violence of any sort.”
“This attack also underscores the importance of close collaboration between federal, state and local authorities in our Nation’s homeland security efforts, as well as public awareness and vigilance. Initial word of the planned program at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland was passed from local law enforcement and the community to federal authorities days before the event, and the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were then able to disseminate information about the planned event to law enforcement and first responders across the country,” Johnson said.
“Finally, in reaction to last night’s attack, we urge that members of the public not misdirect anger and suspicion at people simply because of their religious faith. The strengths and heritage of this Nation include our racial, religious and ethnic pluralism, and our acceptance and inclusiveness of others different from ourselves.”