May 9, 2015 Erick Stakelbeck
With trips to Dallas and Memphis and several speaking and television appearances all crammed into a five-day span, I knew this past week would be an extremely busy one for me.
I had no idea how busy.
The whirlwind began on Sunday night, May 3rd, when news broke of an Islamic terrorist attack in Garland, Texas. 30-year-old Elton Simpson and 34-year-old Nadir Soofi, who lived together in an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona, drove over 1,000 miles to a conference center in Garland with intentions of slaughtering everyone inside. Their target was an event organized by blogger Pamela Geller that awarded a cash prize to whoever could come up with the best drawing of Islam’s prophet Mohammed.
As we’ve seen with deadly jihadi terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in recent months, Islamists don’t take kindly to depictions of their prophet. Luckily, Simpson and Soofi were both shot and killed by a Garland police officer before they had the chance to carry out similar carnage (they did, however, manage to shoot a security guard in the leg).
Although the attack ultimately failed, a few things jump out immediately:
1) Don’t mess with Texas.
2) It appears that Simpson and Noofi conducted the first attack on American soil that can be traced directly back to ISIS. Granted, we have seen attacks and attempted attacks in the United States that were inspired by ISIS and carried out by sympathizers over the past year. But Simpson and Noofi apparently had direct contact with an ISIS jihadi on the ground in Syria. In addition, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and promised more to come on U.S. soil, boasting of “71 trained soldiers” in 15 states–and specifically naming Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, California and Michigan.
–Simpson was what my friend and colleague Patrick Poole calls a “known wolf”–a terror suspect that had been on U.S. authorities’ radar for some time (in Simpson’s case, at least nine years) yet was still able to carry out an act of jihad.
–I’ve been warning for weeks (see my blogs here and here for starters) and in my latest book, “ISIS Exposed,” about the network of ISIS supporters and sympathizers that FBI director James Comey has said are active in all 50 U.S. states. In the wake of the Garland attacks, Comey went further, saying that there are potentially “thousands” of ISIS supporters active online in the United States.
Mr. President, we have a serious problem—and it is not alarmist or “playing on fears,” as many on the Left would suggest, to point it out.
In the midst of all the negative terror-related news this past week, however, there were some major glimmers of hope. On Monday, I moderated an all-star panel at the Capitol Visitor’s Center in D.C. that called attention to the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide. Then it was on to Dallas and an appearance promoting “ISIS Exposed” on Daystar Television with Marcus and Joni Lamb on Tuesday. We were able to encourage Christians to stand strong and trust God in the face of ISIS and the global jihadist threat (my segment with Marcus and Joni begins at the 42:00 mark–watch here).
After a Wednesday back in D.C. filled with talk radio spots and an appearance with Neil Cavuto on Fox News discussing the Garland terror attack, I hopped on a plane to Memphis to deliver a keynote address at an Israel Prayer dinner Thursday night attended by several of the city’s prominent Christian and Jewish leaders. Then right back to D.C., where I joined other Christian leaders in the media, business, political and charitable realms at a Christian Solidarity event at the Israeli Embassy Friday morning.
Whew. A wild week with little sleep, but after a tough start with the news out of Garland, things ended on a positive note.
Yes, Christians and Jews are being persecuted around the world and Islamic jihadists are on the march–including right here in the West. But in my meetings with Christian and Jewish leaders throughout the week, I was greatly encouraged by their enthusiasm, knowledge, courage and above all, determination to turn the tide and make a difference.
And if the God of Israel is for us, who can stand against us?