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May 6, 2015

Texas shooting raises questions about Islamic State in the U.S.


The Islamic State (ISIL) claimed responsibility for an attack in Garland, Texas, that ended in the death of two gunmen on Sunday.

In an online post, the militant group took credit for the attack and praised the actions of the shooters. If true, it would be the first instance of an ISIL-orchestrated attack within U.S. borders.

The two attackers were American Muslim from Arizona. Both were shot by a police officer after wounding a security guard outside the building where a drawing contest of the Islamic prophet Mohammed was taking place. Depictions of the prophet are generally forbidden in Islamic teachings and many Muslims consider them offensive.

U.S. security officials said they are continuing to investigate the incident and its relationship to ISIL. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that it was still too early to tell.

ISIL is active on social media, where they post propaganda and call for attacks against specific targets, according to Juan Zarate, former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism under President George W. Bush.

“This is more about inspiration than direction, but I think we will have to see how the facts play out and what the investigation brings,” Zarate said.

Warm up questions
  1. What is terrorism?
  2. What is the effect of propaganda?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Two men carried out the attack outside an event center where the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was receiving an award. Why would they have chosen that target? Why is it significant?
  2. How can we determine whether the Islamic State was directly involved in the Texas attack? Why is it important to know this?
  3. What is the challenge of trying to prevent attacks like this one? What must counterterrorism officials consider?
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