“Lonergan remembers Simpson would never waver from the teachings he picked up in the mosque and elsewhere. While she and mutual friends would reject sermons at the mosque that she described as anti-American and political, Simpson would repeat scripture and the writings of Islamic scholars, never offering his own opinion.”
Is this mosque being investigated? If not, why not?
“Elton Simpson’s slow, isolated descent into ISIS, jihad,” by Sean Holstege and Matthew Casey, Arizona Republic, May 9, 2015:
Elton Simpson sought meaning from his life and the acceptance of others, and he found it in a north Phoenix mosque and in the social-media plaudits from violent extremists.
Courtney Lonergan, who met Simpson at that mosque about 10 years ago, said the north Phoenix resident was willing to die to defend his faith. It fits a pattern seen in social-media posts by violent jihadists and in research by experts who track them.
A string of Twitter posts before and after Simpson and fellow Phoenix resident Nadir Soofi were shot dead May 3 as they clutched automatic rifles in Garland, Texas, link Simpson to Islamic State militants halfway around the world. The messages encouraged him and praised him for attacking a group that lampooned the Prophet Mohammed in cartoons.
“There are other Elton Simpsons out there,” FBI Director James Comey told reporters in a press briefing Thursday….
Leading up to the incident in Garland, Simpson used a Twitter account called “Sharia is Light,” authorities say.
He used Twitter to echo ISIS’ calls for violence, including threats against the Garland contest organizer, Pamela Geller, the New York Times has reported.
Ten days before the event in Garland, Mohammed Abdullahi Hassan, who left Minneapolis for Somalia as a teenager, tweeted a link to the event and called for jihadists to follow the example set by the Charlie Hebdo shootings, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for brothers in the #US to do their part,” Hassan tweeted.
Simpson tweeted a response to Hassan, who MPR reported had been indicted on terrorism charges in 2009, that if there were jihadists like that in the U.S., people would not draw Mohammed.
Their interaction continued days later when Simpson tweeted at Hassan to send him a direct message, NBC News said.
While not all devout Muslims consider images of the prophet to be an affront, Simpson fit the pattern of those who would. Lonergan, a 40-year-old convert to Islam who has attended the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix where Simpson worshipped, remembers him by his conversion name, Ibrahim. She’s known him for a decade and shares close friends, she said.
She recalled a man for whom the mosque was everything. A star high-school basketball player, he would shine in his role playing pickup games with kids who admired him, she said.
“He was one of those guys who would sleep at the mosque,” Lonergan said. “The fact that he felt personally insulted by somebody drawing a picture had to come from the ideological rhetoric coming out of the mosque.”
Mosque leaders have said repeatedly that they don’t preach radical views and they have kicked out extremists who use their building to recruit followers.
But Simpson’s closeness to the mosque increasingly cut him off from those outside, including some friends, Lonergan said.
“He was in a pattern of feeling isolated, a pattern of feeling marginalized by society,” she said.
So when he sought a Muslim wife, Simpson turned to the men in the mosque to find a suitable woman, and his way of earning their respect was to show his devotion to Islam by quoting teachings verbatim.…
“Ibrahim was desperate to find a wife. For Muslims, their hearts are in their homes, but he didn’t have his heart in his home. He was struggling for something else,” she said.
He started listening to “us-vs.-them” sermons at the Islamic center along Interstate 17, the language of victimization, blaming Muslims’ plight on America and Israel and it took root, she said.
“They tell you your neighbors are against you,” she said, likening Simpson’s mind-set to what she had seen as an inner-city community worker. “You sit there and stew and feel there’s nothing you can do about it.”…
In a series of tweets, Hussain called Simpson and Soofi brothers, soldiers of the Islamic State and claimed their actions were against unchecked freedom of speech.
“If there is no check on the freedom of your speech, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions,” CNN reported that Hussain tweeted.
“I would be willing to bet that nobody in ISIS in Syria heard of Elton Simpson before his attack,” said McCauley, the Bryn Mawr researcher.
He thinks that in 98 percent of its attacks, ISIS offers inspiration only. The group leaves it to others to wage violent jihad as they see fit.
Lonergan remembers Simpson would never waver from the teachings he picked up in the mosque and elsewhere. While she and mutual friends would reject sermons at the mosque that she described as anti-American and political, Simpson would repeat scripture and the writings of Islamic scholars, never offering his own opinion.
“Ibrahim would die for an ideology and to protect a faith,” Lonergan said….