MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A WCCO Investigation has found that a Minneapolis man wanted for terrorism encouraged one of the shooters in Sunday’s attack at a cartoon contest in Texas. Both attackers died when a police officer returned fire at the event in Garland.
The contest was deliberately provocative — it asked entrants to draw the prophet Muhammad, which is considered blasphemous in Islam.
A review of social media accounts found that a 25-year-old Minnesotan, known as Mujahid Miski, had communicated online about the Texas event before it happened.
Mujahid Miski’s real name is Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan. He left Minneapolis in 2008 to join al-Shabaab in Somalia and was indicted in 2009 on terror charges.
Our investigation found this isn’t the first time he has taken to Twitter urging violence.
In the past six months, using the online Twitter name “The Minnesotan3”, he urged ISIS supporters in the U.S. and abroad to kill Jews and behead former Homeland Security adviser Fran Townsend.
In recent months, Elton Simpson, one of the two Texas gunmen, began communicating through Twitter with the Minnesota fugitive known as Mujahid Miski who is in Somalia.
On April 23, Miski tweeted “The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for brothers in the #US to do their part.”
Elton Simpson tweeted back, “When will they ever learn? They are planning on selecting the best picture drawn of Rasulullah (saws) in Texas.”
Rasulullah (saws) refers to the prophet Mohamed.
Moments before last night’s attack Simpson tweeted “May Allah accept us as mujahideen” and then created his own hashtag #texasattack. Minutes later, Simpson and the other gunmen were dead.
Soon after, Miski and other radicals were online celebrating Simpson’s martyrdom and even tweeting “This one should hit the front page.” Miski also tweeted that he would miss Simpson’s daily greetings.
The Counter Extremism Project’s Executive Director David Ibsen says Mujahid Miski bears responsibility for the Texas incident.
“He played a very significant role, partially in terms of incitement and propagandizing,” Ibsen said. “This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following Miski’s activities on Twitter.”
On his own Twitter account, Miski boasts of being suspended by Twitter dozens of times. But after each suspension, he returns with a new account.
Miski attended Roosevelt High school in Minneapolis, where he was a sophomore in 2007.
Two groups that track online terror threats — the Count Extremism Project and Memri-JTTM — say that Mujahid Miski has become an online celebrity in the world of Jihad. Because of that, he has become a prominent recruiter for ISIS both in Minnesota and around the world.
The November 2014 indictment of Minneapolis resident Abdi Nur says Nur left for Syria in May of 2014, just a few months after becoming Facebook friends with Miski.
After Nur joined ISIS, Miski continued to give him advice, tweeting, “the brothers from Minneapolis are well connected… it’s something we have learned after six year in Jihad.”
Nur, in turn, is credited with recruting the six Minnesota terror suspects arrested last month.
Through Twitter, Miski has denounced the arrests of the six and even encouraged turnout at the April 25 protest by Somali community members in St. Paul.
“Miski was able, via Twitter, to mobilize a number of individuals from the community and express their opposition to the actions of the government,” Ibsen said.
In recent weeks Miski and other ISIS supporters have used their Twitter accounts to exploit the Baltimore riots for recruiting.
With Miski’s Minnesota ties, the Counter Extremism Project says people here should be worried about his ongoing recruiting and continued cheer leading for attacks on US soil. Ibsen said,
“He’s very, very effective,” Ibsen said. “His tactics are very refined and he is very sophisticated. And he is a huge problem.”
Mujahid Miski is believed to be tweeting from Somalia.
The FBI declined to comment.
The Counter Extremism project has repeatedly urged Twitter to take steps to allow them to permanently block online accounts like Mujahid Miski’s.
Twitter did not respond to our request for a comment.