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Did an FBI Agent Help Convince ‘Draw Muhammad’ Jihadi Shooter to Attack? 

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‘Tear up Texas,’ the agent messaged Elton Simpson days before he opened fire at the Draw Muhammad event, according to an affidavit filed in federal court Thursday.

Katie Zavadski reports: Days before an ISIS sympathizer attacked a cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, he received a text from an undercover FBI agent.

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“It would certainly be inappropriate for an FBI undercover agent or cooperating witness to provoke or inspire or urge a person to commit an act of violence.”

“Tear up Texas,” the agent messaged Elton Simpson days before he opened fire at the Draw Muhammad event, according to an affidavit filed in federal court Thursday.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

“U know what happened in Paris,” Simpson responded. “So that goes without saying… No need to be direct.”

 “I could imagine an undercover agent thinking it was just the hyperbolic rhetoric they are participating in, and it wasn’t an intent to go to texas and do harm.”

— Michael German, a former FBI agent now at the Brennan Center for Justice

That revelation comes amidst a national debate about the use of undercover officers and human sources in terrorism cases. Undercover sources are used in more than half of ISIS-related terror cases, according to statistics kept by the George Washington University Program on Extremism, and civil liberties advocates say some of those charged might not have escalated their behavior without those interventions.

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“The affidavit raises a lot more questions than it answers, and I would hope that overseers within congress and the Justice Department would want to take a hard look at the scope of this investigation.”

“It would certainly be inappropriate for an FBI undercover agent or cooperating witness to provoke or inspire or urge a person to commit an act of violence,” Michael German, a former FBI agent now at the Brennan Center for Justice, told The Daily Beast. “I could imagine an undercover agent thinking it was just the hyperbolic rhetoric they are participating in, and it wasn’t an intent to go to texas and do harm.”

[Read the full story here, at The Daily Beast]

“The affidavit raises a lot more questions than it answers, and I would hope that overseers within congress and the Justice Department would want to take a hard look at the scope of this investigation,” he added.

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The texts were included in the indictment, released Thursday of Erick Jamal Hendricks of Charlotte, North Carolina. He was charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. The 35-year-old tried to recruit other Americans to form an ISIS cell on secret compounds and introduced an undercover agent to one of the Draw Muhammad attackers, according to the FBI.

But Hendricks did more than make a connection. According to the court papers, he asked the undercover officer about the Draw Muhammad event’s security, size, and police presence, during the event, according to an affidavit filed in court.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Grand Jury Indicts Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh: Air Force Vet Charged in Plot to Aid Islamic State Group

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NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors say a U.S. Air Force veteran has been arrested on terrorism charges in a plot to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

A grand jury indicted Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, of Neptune, New Jersey, on charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group and obstruction of justice.

He will appear Wednesday in federal court in New York City and is now in custody….(read more)

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For NBC News, Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin report: A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.

The indictment said that Pugh was fired from a job in Kuwait as an airplane mechanic in December 2014. It said that he flew from Egypt to Turkey on January 10, in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS and wage violent jihad.

Turkish authorities denied him entry into the country, however, and sent him on a return flight to Egypt. He was deported from Egypt to the U.S. in January 15, after he was found carrying suspicious items, including a photograph of a machine gun.

Pugh was arrested Jan. 16, but the case has been sealed since that date.

Searches of his laptop revealed online queries about borders and crossing points controlled by the Islamic State, and videos showing ISIS executions. Posting on social media show Pugh repeatedly professed a desire never to return to the U.S., even though he has family — including children — in the country….(read more)

This is a breaking news story. Please refresh for updates.

— Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin

Air Force Times – NBC News