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Dallas Morning News: Garland Flaps Illustrate Shifting Terror Focus

By the Dallas Morning News
Editorial Board

As terror attacks go, the charge of the jihadi wannabes in Garland will not be remembered as textbook. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi had desire and tools, but their execution was lacking.

Their goal was to crash an American Freedom Defense Initiative meeting, Pamela Geller’s Muhammad cartoon contest. They arrived as it was ending May 3 but advanced no closer than the Curtis Culwell Center parking lot. Confronted by security officers, they tried to shoot their way in; a Garland police officer, with SWAT backing, put them down.

That might have been that, except for the lessons that would spill out. It’s unfortunate that so much attention has been paid to these terrorists’ incompetence. The next ones — and there will be more — may well prove more accomplished. And even Simpson and Soofi’s failure emphasizes how difficult these attacks are to stop.

Geller’s group had paid for private security and extra police. It wasn’t an unsuspecting soft target, like a shopping mall, baseball stadium or sports arena. The FBI had an investigative file on Simpson, based on past jihadi suspicions.

So how does this guy — with a partner, assault rifle and body armor — get so close? FBI Director James Comey said the bureau sent a bulletin alerting Garland police, among others, about Simpson before the Geller event. However, the FBI also said it had no reason to believe that Simpson intended to attack or that he had even left home base in Phoenix.

Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates said his department “had no information from the FBI or anyone else that Elton Simpson posed a threat to our event.” Yet Bates did concede that an assistant chief was on the distribution list for the FBI notice but didn’t see it.

So the FBI sent email that a terrorism suspect over in Arizona might have an interest in a Texas event but, as far as anyone knew, wasn’t headed to Texas. And Garland police missed the message. All things considered, several dozen people at the conference were quite fortunate that Garland officers had their range training in.

To read more click here. 

 

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