Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which organized the Muhammed cartoon contest near Dallas, on Sunday linked the shooting outside the event to “Islamic jihadis.”
“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently.” Geller told CNN. “They struck in Paris and Copenhagen recently, and now in Texas.”
On Sunday, two gunmen were killed after they opened fire on security officers outside of Geller’s event in Garland, Texas. The two gunmen have not been identified and authorities do not know whether the shooting was linked to the Muhammed cartoon contest.
One security officer, Bruce Joiner, was shot and injured, and was released from the hospital Sunday night.
In a Sunday statement, Geller called the shooting “war on free speech.”
“This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?” she wrote. “The war is here.”
Geller said on Sunday that she wasn’t surprised that her event was attacked.
“This incident shows how much needed our event really was. The freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation,” she said, according to CNN. “The question now before us — will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?”
Geller spent $10,000 to hire 40 security officers to protect the Muhammed cartoon contest at the Curtis Culwell Center, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Geller also runs another group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), which is also listed as a hate group.
When the SPLC listed SOIA as a hate group in 2011, Geller called it a “badge of honor.”
Geller on Sunday dismissed the SPLC’s designation of the American Freedom Defense Initiative as a hate group.
“Who designated the SPLC as a legitimate authority? They are a radical leftist group who targets patriots, vets and even GOP presidential candidates,” she told CNN. “They have never named a jihadi group as a hate group.”
This post has been updated.