A familiar pattern is becoming apparent with terror attacks or would-be terror attacks in the United States. As we wait for the suspect to be identified, some hoping that identity meets their specific narrative, we are often given some early information.
“Law enforcement officials are treating this as a possible terror attack”
“The suspect was known to the FBI”
The latter statement is puzzling. If the suspect was known to the FBI, why was he not previously apprehended? Or why could the FBI not prevent this from happening? The answer, in some cases, raises more unsettling questions.
On 60 Minutes on Sunday new details emerged about the Garland, Texas shooting at the Curtis Culwell Center that put FBI agents at the scene of first ISIS-credited attack in America. Indeed, not only at the scene but directly behind the attackers, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, when they attempted to carry it out. The FBI happened to be right there because Simpson was “known to the FBI.” But “known” may be an understatement, given law enforcement’s three-year paid investment in him.
Elton Simpson converted to Islam in his twenties. In 2007, just as he appeared in an Islamic Community Center of Phoenix video talking about the spiritual community he felt as a Muslim convert, the FBI started its investigation into his possible terrorist connections. It had already been looking at a friend of Simpson’s so it was decided to keep an eye on him as well.
The FBI’s surveillance of the once “well-liked and soft-spoken” young man was very hands on. It hired an informant, Dabla Deng, to befriend Simpson and tape their conversations. The Sudanese refugee was paid $132,000 over three years to be Elton’s friend and confidant at the mosque. Some believe that Simpson’s sense betrayal and anger upon discovering that he had been lied to and manipulated by a friend was the tipping point.
Government officials want us to fear the threat posed by foreign terrorists but in this case invested time and money in radicalizing a native son. In making his second attempt to gain approval for his controversial Travel Ban, President Trump apparently realized he needed an actual reason to ban people (Muslims) from certain countries. So as not to make the same mistake he did in his first draft, Trump offered this statement as an explanation:
“For example, in January 2013, two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees in 2009 were sentenced to 40 years and to life in prison, respectively, for multiple terrorism-related offenses. And in October 2014, a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction as part of a plot to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.”
Here he is citing the case that had already resulted in a temporary ban in 2011 and that was essentially resolved. More troubling is his mention of a native Somali and the real story of how he became a “terrorist.”
Mohamed Osman Mohamud was born in 1991 in Somalia. Caught in a civil war, his family was forced to flee. His father came to America and was able to bring over Mohamed and his mom, who had been living in a refugee camp. The family was finally reunited in 1993, when Mohamed was two, and made a home and life for themselves in Oregon.
The two-year-old refugee’s future path to plotting a terrorist attack is quite alarming. This Buzzfeed article from 2015 does a good job at chronicling his life, his alleged act of terrorism, and trial.
But there are few things about this story that are make you wonder about how and why Mohamed developed into a terrorist.
- Mohamed was raised in the great all-American state of Oregon.
- Nothing in Mohamed’s behavior seemed much different from that of many confused young teens in America.
- His parents reached out for help because their son wanted to leave the United States for the Middle East. (Yes, Mohamed wanted out of the country, not in.)
- The FBI admitted to mistakes and insufficiencies in investigating Mohamed but still entrapped him in a terrorist plot.
This case cited by the Trump administration raises more questions than answers and in no way offers a rationale for a discriminatory ban. How does a small child raised in the United States build up so much hate that he attempted a terrorist attack? Why do we seem resistant to addressing the needs of troubled and confused teens? If the plan was conceived by the FBI, should we consider it a terrorist plot?
Lastly, should the United States be deemed a country that is guilty of breeding and radicalizing terrorists and should its citizens be barred from traveling abroad?