FBI Director James Comey warned today that “there are other Elton Simpsons out there,” referring to one of the jihadists who tried to shoot up an art show featuring cartoons of Mohammad.
“We have a very hard task” in trying to identify and stop anyone inspired to launch an attack inside the U.S. homeland, Comey told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas and a small group of reporters.
Such efforts have become particularly challenging because ISIS has reconfigured and redefined terrorist recruitment, according to Comey. In fact, while the FBI is trying to find that so-called needle in a haystack, “increasingly the needles are invisible to us,” he said.
The FBI used to focus on radical jihadi internet forums, but now ISIS uses social media more; in other words, ISIS will come to you via Facebook or Twitter. According to Comey, ISIS asks interested parties “to travel to the so-called caliphate to fight” but simultaneously says, “If you can’t travel, kill where you are.”
“It’s almost as if there is a devil sitting on the shoulder saying, ‘Kill, kill, kill, kill’ all day long,” he said. “[They are] recruiting and tasking at the same time. … In a way, the old paradigm between ‘inspired’ and ‘directed’ breaks down here.”
The Bureau is also tasked with trying to determine who is a “talker” and who is a “doer.”
Apparently that was what happened with Simpson, who had been on a watch list since 2006.
“Simpson was ultimately indicted on terrorism charges and convicted, but due to questions over the government’s case he never went to prison and was sentenced to probation. The FBI officially closed its case into Simpson last year.”
So he was indicted on terrorism charges and the FBI is wondering if this guy was just a “talker” rather than a “doer”? He wanted to join al-Shabab!
“We didn’t have reason to believe he left Phoenix,” Comey said.
Wait, what? No one was watching him even though “two months ago, based on social media postings suggesting ‘renewed interest in jihad’ with ISIS, the FBI reopened its investigation into Simpson, hoping to determine ‘what he was up to,’ according to Comey.”