Monday, 4 May 2015
Texas Attackers Communicated With Islamic State (ISIS) Operatives On Twitter


One of the two gunmen involved in the Garland, Texas shooting on May 3, 2015, targeting the "Draw Muhammad" event, telegraphed his intentions on Twitter. In the last message that one of the alleged gunmen posted to his account, he suggests that he was operating in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS). Other Twitter messages posted by known Islamic State members indicate that he was in contact with ISIS operatives. While the ISIS link remains uncertain at this moment, ISIS supporters were quick to praise the attack and honor the perpetrators as martyrs for the cause of jihad.

This screenshot shows the Twitter profile of one of the alleged perpetrators, with the social media handle of "Mutawakil" ("one who places his faith in Allah"). In his last tweet, he claims that both attackers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and uses the hashtag #texasattack just hours prior to the event itself. His Twitter account shows him to be an online supporter of ISIS whose account had been frequently shut down for spreading jihadi content. He was followed by over 1,000 accounts, and tweeted regularly. He uses a picture of the late Yemeni-American preacher and Al-Qaeda operative Anwar Al-Awlaki, killed in an American drone strike, as his profile.

His social media contacts include several known ISIS operatives. One possible direct contact, the Minnesotan Somali-American Mohamed Abdullahi Hussein, known as Mujahid Miski,[1] who is currently fighting with the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen in Somalia, tweeted immediately following the attack: "I'm gonna miss Mutawakil, he was truly a man of wisdom. I'm gonna miss his greeting every morning on Twitter." Miski added "I'm gonna miss how he always used to talk speak of the Hoor Al Ayn [virgin of paradise promised to martyrs]. How he always said he wanted to meet her." In a May 4 tweet, Miski wrote: "Our brother Mutawakil in 2008 wanted to Make #Hijrah to Somalia but a Murtad spied on him. Allah swt was preparing him for something better."[2]

Mujahid Miski also claimed awareness of what the perpetrator had dreamed about prior to the attack. "Mutawakil saw himself in a dream walking in a road and a woman looking from the sky with a niqab. He was frightened the interpretation of his dream was that the #hoor Al-Ayn [virgins in paradise] were waiting for him eagerly and that he should hasten to meeting them too." Such dreams are commonly told by jihadi fighters, and are often used to reinforce the operatives' morale and resolve before they embark on suicide missions.

Also tweeting about Mutawakil and #hoor_al_ayn were Irish ISIS supporter "Abu Khalid" and another Western supporter, "Ibn Rushd AlLubnani." Abu Khalid wrote: "brother @atawaakul was talking about #hoor_al_ayn for several days, he surely was planning for this. he was a revert [i.e. convert to Islam] (so far as I know)." Ibn Rushd AlLubnani wrote: "Just a few days ago @atawaakul was talking about Hoor al ayn on twitter and the sisters were getting upset with him. Little did they know..."  

British ISIS fighter Junaid Hussain, who is known as Abu Hussain Al Britani, tweeted ominously hours before the attack and praised the two perpetrators after it occurred: "The knives have been sharpened; soon we will come to your streets with death and slaughter! #QaribanQariba [soon, soon] … Allahu Akbar! Two of our brothers just opened fire at the Prophet Muhammad art exhibition in Texas! #TexasAttack" He also advocated and threatened further attacks: "Kill Those That Insult The Prophet - #GarlandShooting … They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State - #garlandshooting #TexasAttack … If there is no check on the freedom of your speech, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions #GarlandShooting #TexasAttack."

Another American ISIS operative with the alias Abu Khalid Al-Amriki upon learning of the attack on Twitter, praised the attempt and threatened more to come. He tweeted: "This one should hit the front page! Dawlah [ISIS] is in America! Allahu akbar … How much do you love the Prophet? I'm sure the brothers earned their spot next to the messenger of Allah … The drawn Sword on the one that Insults the messenger of Allah. Let this be a wakeup call for all cartoonists. We are coming for you." On March 29, Abu Khalid had claimed on Twitter that he was in contact with ISIS supporters in the USA and that one of them was prepared to carry out an operation.[3]

ISIS operative Abu Hamza Al-habashi tweeted after the attack: "Allahu Akbar The two Brothers attained shadah[martyrdom] in texas! The disbelievers will never understand our love for death. May Allah accept them."

Online ISIS supporters immediately reacted to the Texas attack by praising the perpetrators and elevating them to the rank of martyrs in the cause of jihad. For example, ISIS supporter "Australi Witness," who recently called for targeting Australian cartoonists,[4] tweeted: "May Allah reward the Garland mujahideen with a seat right next to the Prophet in Jannah [heaven]."

The pro-ISIS London-based sheikh Anjem Choudary also reacted to the event on Twitter, by justifying the attack as retribution for the insult to the prophet Muhammad: "Once again we see that people refuse to learn the lesson that insulting the Prophet Muhammad is a deadly pursuit … #garlandshooting the world should know that, for Muslims, the honor of the Messenger Muhammad is dearer to them than their own lives! … #garlandshooting we must learn the lessons from Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Theo Van Gogh & Chalie Hebdo not to insult the Messenger Muhammad! … #garlandshooting Freedom of speech does not extend to insulting the Messenger Muhammad (saw) & hence provoking the anger of 1/4 of the world."

"Muslimah 1," a Dutch ISIS supporter, tweeted a photo of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was keynote speaker at the Garland, Texas event, to "Al Ghareeb," an American ISIS supporter, with the comment "Does Geert Wilders look like he is feeling 'safe' at the event??" Al Ghareeb had written: "They spend 10000 on security for this blasphemous event but then say they will not be scared. Lol. Your scared, the brothers made a point."

Posted on 05/04/2015 1:51 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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