The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack outside a Texas art show featuring cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed, SITE Intel Group reports.
A statement read in a bulletin on the group’s Al Bayan radio station Tuesday said that “two soldiers of the caliphate” carried out Sunday’s attack, the jihadist monitoring service said.
The statement from the group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, said: “We tell … America that what is coming will be more grievous and more bitter and you will see from the soldiers of the Caliphate what will harm you, God willing,” the Associated Press reported.
It is the first time ISIL, which controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for an attack on U.S. soil. The claim could not be independently verified by USA TODAY.
Police said the suspects began shooting at a security guard, who was wounded in the leg, outside the Mohammed Art Exhibit event at the Curtis Culwell Center in suburban Garland, Texas. A traffic officer with the security guard then killed both suspects, identified by officials as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi.
Simpson, 30, is believed to have tweeted several ominous messages before the Garland incident, using the hashtag #texasattack.
He was indicted in January 2010 for lying to the FBI in a terrorism investigation when he told federal investigators he had not discussed traveling to Somalia to engage in “violent jihad,” federal court papers show. He was convicted a year later and sentenced to three years probation.
Soofi, 34, of Phoenix owned a carpet cleaning business, according the Arizona corporate records. Previously, from 2009 to 2013, he owned Cleopatra’s Pizza Bistro, a 40-seat restaurant in North Phoenix, that served halal, or Islamically permissible food.
Court records show he was sued twice for allegedly stealing pay-per-view broadcasts of Ultimate Fighting matches and showing them to patrons at the restaurant. He lost the lawsuits by default and was ordered to pay damages of several thousand dollars.
The exhibit, hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, featured “images of Islam’s prophet, both historic and contemporary, and speeches by leading voices of freedom and internationally renowned free speech advocates,” according to a press release by the group.
According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the prophet Mohammed — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous.
Contributing: Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY, and Brahm Resnik, KPNX-TV, Phoenix
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