SIS appears to declare war on controversial blogger Pamela Geller on Tuesday in an ominous online message claiming it has fighters across America ready to attack “any target we desire.”
The threat, posted on anonymous message board JustPasteIt, singles out Geller, who helped plan a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that was attacked by two gunmen in Garland, Texas, over the weekend. ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting early Tuesday, marking the first time the terror group called an American attack one of its own, though lawmakers believe the two men were influenced by the group, not guided directly by it.
“This is the textbook case of what we’re most concerned about,” Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the Associated Press.
Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were aware the contest was a potential terror target and issued a joint bulletin on April 20. Organizers, including Geller – who has become a lightning rod for critics who think she promotes anti-Islam views – knew they’d be targeted but refused to back down.
The chilling Tuesday post also boasts of ISIS having “71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack.” It specifically names Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and California.
“The attack by the Islamic State in America is only the beginning of our efforts to establish a wiliyah (authority or governance) in the heart of our enemy,” the message reads.
“Our aim was the khanzeer (pig) Pamela Geller and to show her that we don’t care what land she hides in or what sky shields her; we will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter.”
It says the militants will target Geller and anyone who hides or hosts her.Another high-profile target of terrorists, controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, made a brief appearance at the contest, where he spoke to the 200 attendees before leaving with his security team.
Wilders, who is an outspoken critic of Islam and is on Al Qaeda’s hit list, will headline the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s “Lobsterfest” in August in Florida. Geller’s upcoming scheduled public appearances are unknown.
“This threat illustrates the savagery and barbarism of the Islamic State,” Geller told the Daily News in a statement she later posted on her website.“They want me dead for violating Sharia blasphemy laws. What remains to be seen is whether the free world will finaly wake up and stand for the freedom of speech, or instead kowtow to this evil and continue to denounce me.”
Asked if she would increase security or cancel any public appearances, Geller told the News, “Of course,” but said she could not elaborate for security reasons.
The authenticity of the post, as well as the group’s claim to the Texas shooting, have not been independently confirmed, and it is possible the threat is a hoax or a message from an ISIS sympathizer. ISIS has frequently used JustPasteItto publish propaganda, including the names and addresses of 100 U.S. service members in a call for an American jihad.
The armed attackers who stormed the Sunday cartoon contest, 31-year-old Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, 34, were both shot dead by an off-duty officer outside. The Phoenix roommates were the only fatalities in an attack that also gave another guard a minor injury.
The JustPasteIt post claims both men knew they would be killed, and were only testing the waters for future terror.
“We knew that the target was protected. Our intention was to show how easy we give our lives for the Sake of Allah,” it says.
The ISIS radio announcement about the shootings also alluded to planned America attacks, promising “even bigger and more bitter” actions to come.
Simpson, who previously was convicted of lying to federal agents in an Arizona terror probe, was already on the FBI’s radar. The agency had an open investigation into his activities, though it’s unclear why he was not stopped.
He’d been tweeting pro-Islamic State messages from an account under the name “Shariah is Light.” Among the tweets was a picture of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric killed in 2011 in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
Simpson’s final message, with the hashtag #texasattack, was posted 20 minutes before the shooting.
“May Allah accept us as mujahideen. Make dua.”
“Was he on the radar? Sure he was,” said McCaul, a Texas congressman. “The FBI has got a pretty good program to monitor public social media.”