The two terrorists arrived at the cartoon drawing contest in Garland, Texas, with assault rifles and started shooting.
They didn’t get very far. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were killed by local law enforcement before they killed anyone on May 3, 2015.
But nearly two years later, a 60 Minutes segment revealed several troubling facts in what one terrorist expert called ISIS’ “opening salvo” against the U.S. homeland.
First and foremost, it revealed that an FBI agent actually “traveled to Garland, Texas, and was present… at the event.” The revelation came from a lawyer working on behalf of a man accused of having knowledge of the attack.
The FBI declined to be interviewed by 60 Minutes, providing just a terse, one-sentence reply: “There was no advance knowledge of a plot to attack the cartoon drawing contest in Garland, Texas.”
There are other revelations.
The FBI spent several years tracking one of the shooters, Elton Simpson. One informant was paid $132,000 by the government to spy on Simpson. The informant “taped more than 1,500 hours of their conversations and finally recorded him talking about traveling overseas to wage jihad.”
The FBI interviewed Simpson. He was charged with lying to the FBI. For their efforts, Simpson was sentenced to three years probation.
Regardless of whether or not this further radicalized Simpson, it appears like a bungled criminal investigation. Who blows the cover of a multi-year investigation of a suspected terrorist to get a probation charge?
I’d encourage readers to watch the 60 Minutes exposé in full.
It raises questions about fundamental and practical challenges open societies face when confronting terrorist threats on their own soil. Policing potential terrorist threats is clearly a tricky business, at least to individuals who take the protection of civil liberties seriously.
Kudos to 60 Minutes for a nice bit of journalism.
[Image Credit: CBS News]
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.