Did FBI Let Islamists Attack a Texas Cartoon Contest?

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Not long after the brutal 2015 slaying of 11 Charlie Hebdo employees in Paris, Americans were shocked when two men – Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi – opened fire on a “Draw Mohammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. The attack attracted an enormous amount of national coverage in relation to its success; Soofi and Simpson killed no one.

The outsized coverage came about as a result of two factors: The controversial “anti-Islam” event being targeted and the fact that the attack was the first example of ISIS-inspired terrorism inside the United States.

But now the attack is in the headlines for a new reason: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wi), who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, is launching an investigation into what the FBI knew prior to the shooting.

Johnson said he learned from CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the FBI had been monitoring the terrorists for years, a revelation that did not match what Bureau officials told him in the wake of the attack.

“It is concerning that when I wrote to the FBI and Department of Justice, they never told me about the fact that they had some FBI asset, whether it was an agent or informant, tailing Soofi and Simpson,” Johnson told Fox News.

“Why didn’t they intervene?” he asked. “As a member of the Senate oversight committee, I think these agencies should be honest when we actually ask them the questions. But it begs the question, what was the FBI doing in Garland, and why wasn’t the agency direct with me when we first started writing letters about this back in 2015?”

From the Fox News report:

Johnson is referring to two individuals who had prior contact with the shooters. One was a paid FBI informant, the other an FBI undercover agent.

Ten days before the attack Simpson hooked up with an FBI undercover informant via the internet, according to an FBI affidavit filed by Agent Shawn Scott Hare in August 2016. The affidavit was filed in a case against Erick Jamal Hendricks, a North Carolina man charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State.

The affidavit reveals the FBI was aware on May 2, the day before the attack, that Soofi and Simpson were headed to Garland to attend the Draw the Prophet Muhammad Event.

The criminal complaint shows that the FBI’s informant was at the event, parked directly behind the two terrorists, when they opened fire on the contest.

“All I know is we don’t have the straight story from the FBI,” Johnson said. “We are just so fortunate that local law enforcement was able to take care of the situation to prevent another mass attack. This was a real tragedy averted.”

Despite incontrovertible evidence that the FBI had an insider on the scene, the Bureau’s press office told Fox News that they had “no advance knowledge of a plot to attack the cartoon drawing contest.”