AP Ignored Clear Indicators of Islamist Involvement in Texas Terror Attack (See Update)

Since news broke of the terrorist attack in Garland, Texas Sunday evening and continuing until early this morning, the Associated Press, perhaps best nicknamed Allah's Press in instances such as these, was determined not to reveal the nature of those behind it. Two attackers were killed by police after opening fire and wounding a security officer, who, according to AP, "was treated and released from a local hospital."

The attack took place outside the city's Curtis Culwell Center, where a "First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" was being held. Despite information available at the time of each filing, dispatches submitted by a pair of AP reporters at 1:20 a.m (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) and 7:12 a.m. (saved here) would only say that it "remained unclear" and "was not immediately clear," respectively, whether the attack wes related to the event. The wire service's Nomaan Merchant and Jamie Stengle also used their final paragraph in each item to engage in an implied blame-the-victim exercise.

Here are excerpts from that 1:20 a.m. report filed by Merchant and Stengle (bolds are mine throughout this post):

CITY: 2 GUNMEN KILLED OUTSIDE MUHAMMAD CARTOON CONTEST

Two gunmen were killed Sunday after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad in Texas and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the contest was scheduled to end and began shooting at a security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

... Police are not aware of any ongoing threat and had not received any credible threats before the event, Harn said.

Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Such drawings are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad - even a respectful one - is considered blasphemous.

... Geller told the AP before Sunday's event that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to outcries and violence over drawings of Muhammad. Though it remained unclear several hours after the shooting whether it was related to event, she said Sunday night that the shooting showed how "needed our event really was."

... When a Chicago-based nonprofit held a January fundraiser in Garland designed to help Muslims combat negative depictions of their faith, Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: "Go back to your own countries! We don't want you here!" Others held signs with messages such as, "Insult those who behead others," an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

As of 1:20 a.m., the following was known:

  • Someone had sent a tweet celebrating the attack in the belief that it had been successful before it occurred:

GarlandTexasPreAttackTweet050314

  • Gateway Pundit reported that the "Shariah Is Light was the first one tonight to use the hashtag #TexasAttack and he used it BEFORE the shooting!"
  • Mid-evening, Robert Spencer, who helped organize the event and was inside the Culwell Center, tweeted that he had "received contact from ISIS claiming credit for the Texas shooting."

Here is the relevant "no one knows" paragraph from the AP's 7:12 a.m. filing:

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

But by 7:12 a.m., at least one national broadcast network was reporting that a suspect had been apprehended. In the process, that report by ABC's Brian Ross identified another reason why the AP should have reported the possibility (i.e., high likelihood) of Islamist involvement at 1:20 a.m.:

One of the suspects in the shooting in Garland, Texas, late Sunday has been identified as Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation, according to a senior FBI official.

Overnight and today FBI agents and a bomb squad were at Simpson's home in an apartment complex in north Phoenix where a robot is believed to be conducting an initial search of the apartment.

Officials believe Simpson is the person who sent out several Twitter messages prior to the attack on Sunday, in the last one using the hashtag #TexasAttack about half an hour before the shooting.

... Followers of ISIS had been sending messages about the event in Texas for more than a week, calling for attacks. One referenced January's Charlie Hebdo massacre in France and said it was time for "brothers" in the United States to do their part.

UPDATE, 12 Noon: A review of AP's report on the latest developments indicates that it knew of ABC's report, which named Simpson as the suspect, as of an 8:30 a.m. — but didn't actually name Simpson until a 10:20 update.

We're supposed to believe that no one at the AP was aware of these calls for attacks before the real attack occurred, or that no one mentioned their existence during the first few hours after it occurred. Sure, guys. Does anyone believe that the wire service would have failed to report the existence of such messages if they had come from virtually any other group?

Perhaps the reason why AP was so demonstrably reluctant to acknowledge the obvious last night and this morning is that the Obama White House has yet to comment on the attacks. As of roughly 8 a.m. this morning, it was "unclear whether the president will respond to the attacks."

I guess it must be hard to report from the site of a breaking news story when you're awaiting instructions on how to react to it from your de facto bosses.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Censorship Mohammed Cartoons Crime Government Agencies Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Double Standards Labeling Religion Islam Online Media Blogs Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Broadcast Television ABC Good Morning America Nomaan Merchant Barack Obama

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