Friday in Harrisburg, PA, 51-year-old Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty took to the streets and tried to shoot police officers. On his second of three attempts at various locations around the city, he was able to wound one officer.
Some “news” outlets instantly profiled him as a “radical Islamic terrorist.” While I’ve been critical in the past of the media waiting as long as possible before jumping to this conclusion (it took days for some to admit the San Bernardino terrorist attack of 2015 wasn’t just “workplace violence”), this particular case is very different. It’s definitely a “terror attack” by the very definition of the phrase and DHS has called it such:
The Department of Homeland Security has called a Friday evening shooting at the Pennsylvania State Capitol building a terror attack.
A gunman, identified as 51-year-old Ahmed Aminamin El-Mofty, intentionally fired at police officers at multiple locations around the capitol building in Harrisburg, according to local authorities. The suspect injured one officer before he was fatally shot.
DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton declared the shooting “a terror attack” in a Saturday press release.
There must be a distinction made whether it is an attack that was prompted by Islamic radicalization. We need to get a clear idea about his motives because in this day and age, it’s important to classify such attacks appropriately. Was this an attack against police for the sake of a grudge? He didn’t shoot at any ordinary citizens as radical Islamic terrorists almost always do. He specifically targeted police officers.
Some may say that the motives don’t matter or that radicalization is not necessary to understand in these attacks. That’s not true. Because El-Mofty was a naturalized citizen who benefited from chain migration, knowing whether he was indoctrinated into a radical religious belief is important. If this was a grudge against police, then he is just a statistic in the case against chain migration. If this was a terrorist attack prompted by religious zealotry, it becomes a case that needs more attention for the sake of halting or slowing chain migration into this country.
El-Mofty traveled to the Middle East in October, but his ex-brother-in-law claims he was not a terrorist:
The man who authorities say was killed after attempting to gun down several police officers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, “is not a terrorist,” a family member told ABC News on Saturday.
A day after Ahmed El-Mofty allegedly opened fire in what officials said was a deliberate attack on multiple police officers Friday, his Ahmed Soweilam told ABC News that El-Mofty was a timid family man.
“He is a chicken,” Soweilam, who described himself as El-Mofty’s ex-brother-in-law said. “He is not a terrorist.”
The words of a former relative may not hold enough weight to convince us, but his actions seemed more aligned with criminal intent than terrorist motivations. Currently, there’s not enough information to know for sure. As more is learned during the investigation, we may find that he was a radical Islamic terrorist, but for now this is the rare case where we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion.