Nadir Soofi

Nadir Soofi was an American-born ISIS supporter who attacked a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, on May 3, 2015, alongside Elton Simpson. The pair shot and wounded a security guard with AK-47s before they were shot and killed by police.“Phoenix Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Support ISIL and Other Terrorism-Related Offenses,” U.S. Department of Justice, March 17, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/phoenix-man-convicted-conspiracy-support-isil-and-other-terrorism-related-offenses. ISIS swiftly claimed responsibility for the attack and referred to Simpson and Soofi as its “soldiers.”Holly Yan, “Texas attack: What we know about Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi,” CNN, May 5, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/05/us/texas-shooting-gunmen/. Soofi reportedly drew inspiration from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298.

Simpson, Soofi, and their roommate Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem began planning an attack in support of ISIS as early as June 2014, according to U.S. prosecutors. They allegedly discussed targeting military bases, individual military service members, shopping malls, and the Glendale, Arizona, Super Bowl. They decided on the so-called “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” in Garland, Texas, hosted by conservative political activist Pamela Gellar’s American Freedom Defense Initiative. On the morning of May 3, 2015, Simpson and Soofi drove from their home in Phoenix, Arizona, to the contest at Garland’s Curtis Culwell Center. Upon arrival they began firing assault rifles at security personnel, wounding one guard. A local traffic officer then shot and killed both Simpson and Soofi.“Phoenix Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Support ISIL and Other Terrorism-Related Offenses,” U.S. Department of Justice, March 17, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/phoenix-man-convicted-conspiracy-support-isil-and-other-terrorism-related-offenses. In March 2016, Kareem was found guilty of conspiring alongside Simpson and Soofi to provide material support to ISIS.“Phoenix Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Support ISIL and Other Terrorism-Related Offenses,” U.S. Department of Justice, March 17, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/phoenix-man-convicted-conspiracy-support-isil-and-other-terrorism-related-offenses;
Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “One of Texas Gunmen Had Previously Drawn FBI’s Attention,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-of-texas-gunmen-had-previously-drawn-fbis-attention-1430753373.

Soofi was born in Garland, Texas, in 1980 to a Pakistani father and a Christian American mother. He moved to Pakistan with his family at age 8. After his parents’ divorce in 1998, Soofi returned to the United States with his mother.Holly Yan, “Texas attack: What we know about Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi,” CNN, May 5, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/05/us/texas-shooting-gunmen/;
Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298.
He studied pre-med at the University of Utah, but dropped out of school in 2003.‘Profile: Texas gunmen Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi,” BBC News, May 5, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32582704;
Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “One of Texas Gunmen Had Previously Drawn FBI’s Attention,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-of-texas-gunmen-had-previously-drawn-fbis-attention-1430753373.
Soofi moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and reportedly worked as a taxi driver. He also owned several businesses including a carpet-cleaning service and a pizzeria.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “One of Texas Gunmen Had Previously Drawn FBI’s Attention,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-of-texas-gunmen-had-previously-drawn-fbis-attention-1430753373. Soofi hired Simpson to work at his pizza shop, and told his mother that though Simpson had a criminal record, he had converted to Islam and was trying to reform his life.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298. Soofi himself had previously had legal issues. He was sued in 2012 for showing a closed-circuit boxing match in his pizzeria without a commercial license. Soofi was ordered to pay approximately $10,000 in damages. In addition, in 2013, Soofi was ordered to pay $4,800 in past child support to his child’s mother, Tabbatha Banayat.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “One of Texas Gunmen Had Previously Drawn FBI’s Attention,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-of-texas-gunmen-had-previously-drawn-fbis-attention-1430753373.

According to Soofi’s mother, her son would often speak about Islam during their phone calls and blame the United States for its role in the Middle East. Soofi would also frequently talk about Anwar al-Awlaki, and would reportedly send his mother DVDs of Awlaki’s sermons. According to his mother, Awlaki’s 2011 death “instigated a deeper passion for his teachings” in her son.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298. According to Soofi’s maternal grandmother, Soofi was “a practicing Muslim, but wasn’t no fanatic about it.”Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298. Soofi’s mother reportedly called Soofi in January 2015 after she learned from her other son that Nadir had purchased an AK-47 off of Craigslist. Soofi reportedly told his mother that shooting was just a hobby and that he had gotten rid of the automatic rifle.Dan Frosch and Ana Campoy, “Mother of Texas Gunman Sought to Keep Son From Extremism,” Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-of-texas-gunman-sought-to-keep-son-from-extremism-1430951298.

Soofi’s brother, Ali, reportedly lived with Nadir and Simpson until about three weeks before the attack. Ali Soofi purportedly moved out because he was concerned about Simpson’s influence on his brother. Soofi was survived by his then-9-year-old son. Soofi’s mother called her son a good father, but said she could not understand why he would “leave [his son] behind.”Matt Pearce and Nigel Duara, “Texas gunman’s mother: ‘He just had a normal American upbringing,’” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-texas-gunman-20150505-story.html

Return to Full Database

Take action:

Help Counter Extremism

Stay updated on the latest

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 17, 2019, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated outside a Presidential rally in Charikar, Afghanistan, killing at least 26 people and injuring another 30. Later, a suicide bomber detonated outside the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, killing 22 and wounding 38 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

View Archive

CEP on Twitter